Senate Confirms Huawei-Linked Lobbyist to Intel Post

Republicans respond with legislation to prevent federal officials from working with Chinese regime-linked companies

(Getty Images)
June 22, 2021

The Senate confirmed a nominee tied to Chinese tech giant Huawei to an intelligence post, prompting Republicans to introduce a bill barring outgoing government officials from working with some state-owned Chinese companies.

After the Senate confirmed Chris Fonzone as general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) introduced a bill that would forbid outgoing presidential appointees from working with companies sanctioned for their ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Fonzone, a former Obama administration aide who passed Senate scrutiny in a 55-45 vote, admitted to lobbying on behalf of Huawei.

Sasse said his measure would close the "revolving door" between the U.S. government and the CCP.

"The last thing we need is a revolving door between the United States Federal Government and the Chinese Communist Party's tech puppets," Sasse said. "Mr. Fonzone showed extremely poor judgement when he did work for Huawei after he left President Obama's National Security Council. Mr. Fonzone is not going to be the last nominee who will leave a national security appointment to go work for a CCP national champion and then try to come back to government service.... We need to make sure we bolt this revolving door shut before more public servants make a quick buck working with the Chinese Communist Party."

In 2019, Huawei hired Fonzone’s firm, Sidley Austin LLP, to assist in navigating the Trump administration's crackdown on the company for its ties to the Chinese regime and military. In June 2020 the Pentagon determined that Huawei is primarily backed by the Chinese military.

Several appointees from the Biden administration’s foreign policy team have ties to Chinese business. The Washington Free Beacon reported in June that the Biden administration took on more than 10 staffers from an advisory firm, Albright Stonebridge Group, that's now partnered with China's largest law firm.