Commerce Secretary Raimondo's Husband Top Exec With China-Backed Company Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo speaks during the daily White House briefing Nov. 9, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 15 December 2021 12:04 PM
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo appears to have a conflict of interest due to her husband being a top executive for a company whose major investor is backed by the Chinese government, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
Raimondo's job requires her agency to compete with China globally. Her husband, Andy Moffit, is chief people officer at PathAI, an artificial intelligence company.
Danhua Capital, based in California and one of the main funders of PathAI, is financially backed by the Chinese Communist Party.
The firm has invested in PathAI since at least 2017, when it joined five other venture capitalists to contribute $11 million worth of funding for the AI startup, the Free Beacon reported Tuesday.
Although it was unclear how much Danhua Capital had invested in PathAI, the Chinese firm lists PathAI as one of its featured "biotech and health" investments.
Reuters reported in 2018 that Danhua Capital was established and funded with the help of the CCP as part of its "penetration of Silicon Valley."
Danhua Capital's mission is to use its capital to narrow the technology gap between China and the U.S., Center for a New American Security (CNAS) officials testified before Congress in 2018.
Former staffers of CNAS, a liberal think tank, have filled prominent positions in the Biden administration, according to the Free Beacon.
While Raimondo's ethics agreement to serve in the administration bars her from participating in any matter that could have a "direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of PathAI," the Free Beacon said the secretary’s financial disclosure forms showed she would greatly benefit from the company's success.
Moffit, who earns an annual salary from PathAI, was given a significant number of ownership shares in the company as well as stock options, the Free Beacon reported.
Raimondo has emerged as one of the most pro-China voices in the administration. She told The Wall Street Journal in September that the U.S. should strengthen economic ties with China, arguing "robust" commercial engagement with China would "mitigate any potential tensions."
The Journal reported Friday that leaders at the Commerce Department remained opposed to some administration plans of getting tougher with China and its technology companies because the efforts will hurt U.S. companies.
Raimondo last week said she would not urge U.S. companies to pull sponsorships from the upcoming Beijing Olympics after President Joe Biden announced a diplomatic boycott of the games over human rights abuses.
"What individual companies do is entirely up to them," Raimondo said, the Free Beacon reported. "We’re not going to pressure them one way or another."