Despite the clarion calls that proposed Chinese electric battery plants in the U.S. are likely to spy on U.S. government and military targets, some Democrats continue to defend their government handouts to such companies as Gotion, Inc., and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co.

At the same time, they continue to tout the number of jobs these plants will create in Marshall (CATL) and Big Rapids (Gotion).

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U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, a Republican who hails from Midland, represents the same district where Gotion is attempting to build a plant less than 90 miles from the Michigan National Guard facility outside Grayling. That facility coincidentally is training Taiwanese soldiers in preparation for an anticipated attack from China.

On Wednesday, Moolenaar, a member of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, questioned former Obama administration Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and current FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Each man expressed grave concerns over allowing Chinese-owned companies with known affiliations to the Chinese Communist Party into the United States.

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“Buying land, buying businesses, and so forth, while may be legal, can still raise national security concerns because it provides a vehicle for [the CCP] to, if they want to leverage that access, to conduct surveillance or other operations that undermine our national security, and we’ve seen time and time again, where they have used that access, leveraged that access, to do that,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told Moolenaar.

Panetta concurred.

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

Pompeo warned that the Chinese threat to U.S. and Michigan interests could extend beyond collecting intelligence for the CCP.

“I think it is worse than the fact that they will engage in espionage. I think that’s just top of the list. They will use [the factory] in ways that will leverage Chinese advantage. These plans are deeply dangerous to our national security and ought not be built,” he said.

Concerns have grown over the past few months over the proposed Gotion plant, In November, all five members of the Green Township Board were recalled and two others resigned. Additionally, the supervisor of neighboring Big Rapids Township was recalled. All had approved a massive 30-year tax abatement.

Michigan’s Democratic trifecta in Lansing, however, approved a $715 million incentive package for the Gotion plant. Among the Democratic Senators voting for the Gotion incentives was former Sen. Curtis Hertel who is currently running for the 7th Michigan District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Perhaps more interesting about Hertel than other Democratic lawmakers who voted for the Gotion incentives is that he and a staffer signed nondisclosure agreements with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which related to MEDC funding of the Gotion project dubbed Project Elephant.

Hertel did not respond to The Midwesterner’s request for comments.

Mike Marinella, National Republican Congressional Committee, however, didn’t pull any punches.

A Foreign Agents Registration Act filed on Gotion’s behalf by Grand Rapids law firm Warner Norcross & Judd, revealed Hertel held conversations with the firm, which was seeking to: “Gather background on concerns raised during Senate Appropriations hearing.” Hertel, at the time, was a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The law firm has contributed $2,400 to campaign committees supporting Hertel, and individual attorneys at Warner Norcross & Judd also made donations to his Congressional campaign.

“Curtis Hertel is as crooked as they come,” Marinella told The Midwesterner in an email. “He took money directly from foreign agents that represent Gotion, and then he signed an NDA with the CCP. It’s not surprising he will take no responsibility for approving taxpayer funds for a CCP-backed company.”