Former DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos Registers To Lobby for CCP-Tied EV Company

Bustos has lobbied the Biden White House and three federal agencies for Gotion, disclosures reveal

Former Rep. Cheri Bustos (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
June 11, 2024

Former top Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos quietly registered as a lobbyist to represent a controversial Chinese Communist Party-tied green energy company rapidly expanding in Michigan and her home state of Illinois, state and federal lobbying disclosures reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon reveal.

Bustos registered to lobby on behalf of Gotion Inc., the California-based subsidiary of the Chinese electric vehicle battery maker Gotion High-Tech, in the fourth quarter of 2023 and, again, in the first quarter of 2024, according to federal lobbying disclosures reviewed by the Free Beacon.

Bustos is one of several officials from Mercury Public Affairs, LLC., a high-profile Washington, D.C., consulting outfit, to register to lobby for Gotion, the documents show. She joined Mercury in January 2023, days after retiring from Congress, where she served in House Democratic leadership, including a stint as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—House Democrats' primary campaign arm.

Overall, during the period between the end of 2023 and beginning of 2024, Gotion paid Mercury $600,000 for its services. The contract is the single largest to list Bustos as a lobbyist since she joined the firm.

According to the disclosures, Bustos has lobbied the State Department, Energy Department, Treasury Department, and White House for Gotion on issues "related to clean energy technology, U.S. domestic manufacturing and foreign direct investment, trade and economic development."

It remains unclear what specific policies Gotion is seeking to achieve at the federal level. Lawmakers have speculated, however, that Gotion could make a push to ensure its facilities are eligible for generous green energy production tax credits included in President Biden's 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

Late last year, Reps. Darin LaHood (R., Ill.) and John Moolenaar (R., Mich.), the chair of the House CCP Committee, introduced the No Official Giveaways Of Taxpayers’ Income to Oppressive Nations Act late last year to block CCP-tied companies like Gotion from receiving IRA tax credits.

Republican lawmakers last week called for Gotion to be added to a U.S. import ban list, citing allegations that the company’s supply chains are linked to forced labor in China's Xinjiang region—allegations that Gotion denies.

Bustos has also been hired to lobby for Gotion at the Illinois state house, according to Illinois state filings reviewed by the Free Beacon.

Bustos's involvement with Gotion comes amid a large grassroots effort in Michigan and Illinois opposing the company's development projects.

In October 2022, Gotion announced plans to invest $2.4 billion to construct an EV battery component facility spanning 260 acres in northern Michigan. Then, in September 2023, the company announced plans for a separate $2 billion EV battery assembly facility in eastern Illinois.

While both development plans received enthusiastic support and financial backing from the Democrat-led state governments in the two bordering states, locals, national security experts, former State Department officials, and bipartisan lawmakers have expressed concern over Gotion's ties to the CCP.

For example, Gotion High-Tech's corporate bylaws state that the company is required to "carry out Party activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China."

The company also hosted multiple company trips in 2021 to CCP revolutionary memorials in Anhui Province, China, the Daily Caller News Foundation first reported. During the trips, Gotion High-Tech employees wore Red Army outfits and pledged to "fight for communism to the end of my life."

Further, Gotion Inc. is itself listed as a Chinese foreign principal in recent Foreign Agents Registration Act disclosures reviewed by the Free Beacon. The disclosures were filed on May 30 by Warner Norcross + Judd, a law firm that represents Gotion.

"The China problem cannot be overstated. It is real. It is massive. It is complex. It threatens our national and economic security," former U.S. ambassador Joseph Cella told the Free Beacon. "The United States, on a whole-of-society basis, needs to quickly recalibrate at scale, to know the threat of China, track it, and institute policies and practices to counter it."

"It is unconscionable there are agents of D.C.-based lobbying and public affairs firms, no matter their party affiliation, who are being paid vast sums of money to ensure the United States intertwined with PRC-based and CCP-tied companies to the detriment of our national and economic security," Cella said. "We must never put money over country."

Company officials led by Chuck Thelen, Gotion's vice president of North American operations, have repeatedly denied that the CCP has any influence in its U.S. operations. Thelen has characterized opposition to Gotion's projects as fear-mongering and scare tactics.

Gotion didn't respond to requests for comment.

Bustos referred the Free Beacon to Mercury's D.C. office, which didn't respond to a request for comment.