Republican hypocrisy is apparent as MIGOP members deepen their ties to Chinese business interests
LANSING — In case you missed it, MLive dropped an exposė this Sunday that detailed the shady connections between the MIGOP and the firm Avisa Partners, which seems to have taken a leading role in attacking Michigan Democrats for the Gotion Project. As a reminder, Michigan Republicans have attempted to hit Democrats for alleged China connections, ignoring all the good jobs that Gotion will bring to Michigan. Now, it turns out that the very firm that may be behind the numerous hits has ties to Chinese state-owned companies.
For months, Michigan Republicans tried to level baseless accusations against Democrats for “foreign ties” and other nonsensical claims, attempting to paint a picture of a party with connections to international interests. What this report by MLive shows conclusively is the Michigan GOP’s so-called “EV Taxpayer Task Force” is connected to a singular entity: Avisa Partners, which not only employs shady techniques to lobby on behalf of their clients, but is based… in France… and is hired by a corporation run by the Chinese-owned company ChemChina.
While Michigan Republicans have attacked Democratic investment in battery manufacturing despite the countless jobs it will create for Michigan, they conveniently ignored their own party and members’ connections to Chinese state-run corporations. Former ambassador Joseph Cella, former ambassador and Congressman Pete Hoekstra, Congressman John Moolenaar, State Sen. Lana Theis, State Sen. Jonathan Lindsey, and State Rep. Andrew Fink all appear to have connections with this shady international firm.
While the chaos of the Michigan GOP is expected, the stunning hypocrisy is a new addition to their growing brand.
Check out more from MLive’s extensive report below:
MLive: Mystery group stirs up criticism of battery plants linked to China
- The EV Taxpayer Task Force has worked hard to mask its identity. It has no named representatives or backers. The group is not listed as a registered nonprofit with the IRS, a political committee with the Federal Election Commission or a business in Michigan or other states. It has no address or phone number.
- Their website offers a single clue: the URL is registered to an employee of a French company named Avisa Partners, a company that specializes in what it calls “indirect digital influence activities and online campaigns.”
- The firm has repeatedly made headlines for its work. French investigative journalists found Avisa Partners engaged in online manipulation campaigns, including systematically editing Wikipedia pages for major multinational corporations and the authoritarian leaders of countries like Chad and Kazakhstan.
- They reportedly have paid ghostwriters to authors columns on behalf of their clients in major French publications, and later sued the publications for their characterizations of the posts.
- “It really gives a different appearance of that grassroots support, whereas in actuality sometimes it’s just the result of a substantially funded, very opaque operation that is run by a very small group of individuals,” [Anna Massoglia, editorial and investigations manager of the nonpartisan, independent nonprofit OpenSecrets] said.
- Among Avisa Partners’ disclosed lobbying clients in the U.S. is Syngenta, an agricultural corporation run by the Chinese state-owned company ChemChina.
- EV Taxpayer Task Force did not respond to messages sent to their only available contact information, an email address. Calls and emails to Avisa Partners also went unanswered.
- Rhetoric around the Gotion plant is rooted in misinformation, according to University of Michigan professor Mary Gallagher, an expert in Chinese politics, law and society and labor politics. “The main concern that people have raised is that Gotion is closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party,” she said. “And I don’t think that there is evidence for that.”