Does politics attract shameless people or does politics make people shameless? It’s a question I asked myself after reading the comments Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin made about Donald Trump the other day on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“My sense is Donald Trump would hand the keys over to Putin,” Slotkin speculated if Trump is reelected. “Why fight (in Ukraine) when you can just get the keys from a new American president?” 

Allegations that Trump is beholden to Putin has been a critical message point of the Democrats and their legacy media promoters even before he won his first election. Multiple investigations couldn’t make the Russian collusion conspiracy charge stick and given Trump’s supposed lead in the polls, Democrats fail to appreciate the public either doesn’t believe the allegation or that voters might prefer a Putin puppet rather than another four years of President Biden.

I naively expected more from Slotkin, the sole Michigan politician I once believed in.

Slotkin’s background impressed me. A third generation Michigander, Slotkin grew up on her family’s farm in Holly, which is about 55 miles northwest of Detroit. Slotkin’s family owned Hygrade Foods, a meatpacking company best known in Michigan as the supplier of the beloved BallPark Franks served at Tiger Stadium. The Slotkins sold Hygrade in 1989 to Sara Lee, which was subsequently acquired by Tyson.  

Slotkin chose a career in public service, a decision her bio says was influenced by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which happened just days after she moved to New York City to attend graduate school at Columbia. Upon graduation, Slotkin joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as an intelligence analyst. At the CIA, she worked alongside the military during three tours in Iraq helping our troops counter violent militias.

Slotkin, whose estimated net worth is $2 million, held various defense and intelligence positions under President Bush and President Obama. She also served as an acting assistant secretary of defense, overseeing Pentagon policy in Russia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, helping coordinate the successful campaign to counter ISIS and other critical national security issues.

I was also encouraged that Slotkin called out Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib after the notorious Jew hater who is opposed to a two-state solution falsely claimed that “From the River to the Sea” was “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.” That demonstrated some character given that southeastern Michigan has a significant Muslim population that supports Tlaib and openly sides with Hamas and Iran. Admittedly, as a Jewish woman whose mother lived the final years of her life as a gay woman, Slotkin likely wouldn’t get many votes in Dearborn or Hamtramck regardless.

“The phrase “from the River to the Sea” is one of division & violence, & it is counterproductive to promoting peace,” Slotkin tweeted. “None of us, especially elected leaders, should amplify language that inflames a tense situation & makes it harder for our communities to find common ground.”

Readers of this blog know of the Starkman Approved Theory, which holds there is an inverse relationship between those proclaiming superior righteousness and the values they actually live by. Reading about Slotkin’s suggestions that Trump was beholden to Putin was a warning sign that prompted me to do some research on Slotkin.

NRSC website image

Sure enough, I quickly learned why Republicans have dubbed the Congresswoman, “Shanghai Slotkin” because of her involvement and silence relating to two controversial Michigan battery plants with undeniable ties to China’s communist government. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who President Biden seriously considered as his running mate for the 2020 election and the legacy media touts as a worthy presidential candidate, spearheaded about $3 billion in taxpayer incentives and subsidies for the construction of these two battery plants.

One of the battery plants is being built in west Michigan by the U.S. subsidiary of a China-based company called Gotion Inc., which disclosed in a filing that its CEO and 923 other employees are members of that country’s Communist Party. According to Michigan Senator Lana Theis, Gotion’s previous CEO, Chen Li, is now a member of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, which develops strategies to advance China’s interests. Chen’s father also holds a leadership position in the Communist Party, according to Theis.

Chuck Thelen, Gotion’s Vice President of North American operations, has repeatedly insisted that allegations that Gotion is controlled by China’s Communist Party are baseless.

Another battery plant is in southwestern Michigan, which Ford is building using licensed technology from a China-based battery company called CATL. Ford was hoping to build its battery plant in Virginia, but Gov. Glenn Younkin told Ford to take a hike, alleging that it was a sham China deal to allow Ford’s electric vehicles to qualify for lucrative tax subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act.

The legacy media dismissed Younkin’s concerns as Republican fear mongering, but a report by a business intelligence analyst this week seemingly validated Younkin’s concerns. Cameron Hughes of CRU revealed that Robin Zeng Yuqun, CATL’s founder, chairman, and general manager, has reduced his stake in the company to 23.5% to enable its eligibility for taxpayer credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. Under IRA, companies with a 25% or more ownership by a “Foreign Entity of Concern” can’t qualify for the lucrative taxpayer credits.

According to Hughes, CATL’s founder is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which he said is an advisory body to the Chinese government.

The Wall Street Journal reported that GM CEO Mary Barra met with Congressional leaders and warned that Ford’s partnership with CATL would ultimately result in China’s domination of U.S. automotive manufacturing. The Journal said that GM executives told the Biden Administration that if consumers could use the IRA tax credit to buy cars that Ford made with Chinese battery technology, GM would be at a competitive disadvantage and would be forced to strike its own deals with Chinese firms. That would undercut Washington’s goal of making the U.S. automotive industry less dependent on China.

Washington Examiner

At a recent Congressional hearing, Leon Panetta, who served as head of the CIA and Secretary of Defense in the Obama Administration, warned that it was a given that China would use Gotion’s Michigan electric battery plant for espionage purposes.

“I don’t think there’s any question that they’re going to take advantage of that situation,” Panetta told a Congressional hearing. “And I think we have to be very vigilant about what the hell is going on. That’s just the way they operate. They’ll establish a manufacturing unit, they’ll establish whatever they can, and then they will use that for their own intelligence purposes. They will use that for their own economic purposes.”

Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s former Secretary of State, agreed the Gotion plant was a national security risk.

“It is worse than the fact that they will engage in espionage. I think that’s just top of the list,” Pompeo said. “They will use this in ways that will leverage Chinese advantage. These (battery) plants are deeply dangerous to our national security and ought not be built.”

The Detroit News revealed that Slotkin was among dozens of Michigan lawmakers who signed non-disclosure agreements with a state agency preventing them from sharing details with voters about economic development projects subsidized by taxpayers. The News reported that Slotkin’s personal non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was related to GM’s successful bid for taxpayer funding for its battery plant in suburban Lansing and a failed attempt to lure a technology company to a township 15 miles northwest of Lansing.

However, the News also reported that a Slotkin staffer signed an NDA relating to the proposed Gotion battery plant, which is located nowhere near Slotkin’s district.

It’s disgraceful for politicians to sign NDAs that prevent them from disclosing details of projects that impact their constituents, but that’s how they roll in Michigan, where critical legislation is introduced and passed at midnight and the state’s political leaders get failing grades for their integrity and transparency.  

Michael LaFaive, senior director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market-oriented think tank, told the News that if details of taxpayer incentive deals come to light earlier, elected officials tasked with voting on the giveaways could more accurately gauge potential economic benfits.  

“The flow of information between the public and their representatives is throttled in a way that harms us,” LaFaive said.

Monique Field-Foster/ Warner Norcross

Compounding the bad optics, FOX news reported  that Monique Field-Foster, an attorney at a Michigan law firm who registered as a foreign agent to lobby on behalf of Gotion, made a $250 contribution to Slotkin’s campaign, as well as $1,600 in contributions to Whitmer’s gubernatorial campaign. Field-Foster, who boasts on her law firm bio that she “provides access and legislative entree at the highest levels of Michigan state government,” also made a $250 campaign contribution to Liz Whitmer Gereghty, Whitmer’s sister who is running for a Congressional seat in New York’s Hudson Valley. Gereghty bailed on Michigan some three decades ago.

Admittedly, Field-Foster’s $250 contribution to Slotkin’s campaign was chump change, particularly for a multimillionaire, but it made me wonder if Ford had contributed to Slotkin’s campaign. I figured that a company in bed with China would be among Slotkin’s biggest supporters.

Sure enough, individuals connected to Ford have donated $36,083 to her campaign, making Slotkin far and away the biggest beneficiary of the automaker’s political contributions.

Ford campaign contributions/OpenSecrets

The cumulative Ford contributions are the sixth biggest reported for Slotkin’s campaign. Slotkin is also popular with individuals connected to the University of Michigan and Michigan State, who have contributed about $2 million in combined campaign contributions. Individuals connected with The Department of Justice have contributed $16,701.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has dubbed Slotkin “Shanghai Slotkin,” and has a page outlining the supporting allegations as well as an advertisement. While some of the NRSC’s allegations appear false and deceptive, Slotkin’s silence about China’s Michigan battery deals is alarming, especially given that she formerly worked as a CIA intelligence analyst.  

Slotkin has also figured into a controversy involving a property she rented from a campaign contributor and Republicans alleged was paying below market rent. The allegation is possibly nasty politics in a desperate attempt to derail Slotkin’s front runner status, but it’s disconcerting how she allows herself to become embroiled in multiple controversies. People who skate close to the line too often trip over it.

The trouble with Michigan politicians is that some continue questionable behaviors they honed at the state level. I’ve written previously about two-term former governor Jennifer Granholm’s questionable $9.2 billion below market loan to Ford. Debbie Stabenow, the Senator Slotkin hopes to replace, was the biggest recipient of convicted fraudster Sam Bankman Fried’s political contributions and one of his stalwart Congressional champions.

Let’s just say my hopes and expectations for Slotkin have vanished, but I still wonder if she is an ethically challenged person or if politics challenged her ethics.

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