House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo regarding her reported family ties to the Chinese Communist Party and potential conflicts of interest from those connections.
Highlights and excerpts from the letter:
“We write with significant concerns about a recent report that your husband is a top executive at a venture capital firm backed by the Chinese government. According to a report by The Washington Free Beacon, Danhua Capital was ‘established with the financial backing of the Chinese Communist Party, is one of the main funders of PathAI, an artificial intelligence firm that employs [your] husband, Andy Moffit, as its chief people officer.’ Danhua Capital has been invested in PathAI since at least 2017 and lists the company ‘as one of its featured ‘biotech and health’ investments.’ As the Secretary of Commerce, an agency central to America’s competition with China, particularly when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), this revelation is deeply concerning and raises significant questions about obvious conflicts of interest and our strategic interests to lead on AI.
“Additionally, this complacency with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) seems to extend across the entire Biden-Harris Administration. Since taking office, President Biden and his Administration have been soft on China, overlooking humanitarian, national security, and economic security matters for the sake of climate change. For example, the Administration has reportedly lobbied against the Uygur Forced Labor Prevention Act, recently cut the video feed of a Taiwanese minister during the Administration’s ‘Summit for Democracy,’ and sided with TikTok in its decision to rescind then-President Trump’s 2020 executive order. We also note that we are still waiting for Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to answer our questions about the Administration’s reported approval of semiconductor technology transfers for Huawei’s interests in the transportation sector.
“Notably, and of particular concern given the revelation of your husband’s employer’s apparent ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Commerce Department has reportedly been stalling efforts to blacklist certain Chinese technology companies and investments. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that ‘U.S. officials are also considering…adding more Chinese technology companies to the Commerce Department’s entity list and to the Treasury list banning U.S. investment,’ but that ‘leaders at the Commerce Department remain opposed’ to these efforts.
“In light of these developments and our concerns about PathAI’s apparent ties to the CCP, please respond to the following by December 31, 2021:
- Have you or your staff taken any meetings with PathAI since you assumed your role as Secretary? If yes, please identify when, for what purpose, who from the Department of Commerce attended, and if anyone from PathAI participated in those meetings.
- Have you or your staff contacted anyone on the National Economic Council regarding PathAI? If yes, please provide documentation of those communications and the purpose for such outreach.
- Have you or your staff taken any meetings with any company or entity at the request of anyone from PathAI? If yes, please identify the company or entity, when you or your staff met with them, who from the Department was involved in the meeting, and the purpose of those meetings.
- Do you agree that the PRC poses a humanitarian, national security, and economic security threat to the United States? If yes, why? If no, why not?
- Do you agree that the U.S. government should preserve and promote private sector innovation as it relates to emerging technologies, such as AI, and related applications like autonomous vehicles, to compete with the PRC? If yes, why? If no, why not?
- Please outline the specific policies you have in place to ensure your husband and PathAI do not influence you or your staff.
- Are you one of the “leaders at the Commerce Department” opposing other U.S. officials attempts to add more technology companies directly or indirectly related to PRC state sponsorship to your agency’s entity list? If yes, why? If no, do you know who at your agency opposes these attempts? If the latter, please identify those individuals.
- When did you first become aware of PathAI’s direct ties to the CCP?
- During your nomination and confirmation process, were you aware of PathAI’s direct ties to the CCP? If so, did you ever disclose such ties?
- Prior to your nomination, did you disclose to President Biden or any White House official PathAI’s direct ties to the CCP? If yes, when? If no, did you intentionally conceal these ties or were you not aware of them?
- If you have not known about PathAI’s direct ties to the CCP, do you now plan to take any steps to address the clear conflict of interest? If yes, please outline those specific steps. If no, why not?”
CLICK HERE to read the full letter.