Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA analyst and Defense Department official, has come under fire for signing a non–disclosure agreement (NDA) to engage in closed–door discussions about a Chinese battery company‘s proposed factory in Michigan.
The proposed $2.4 billion Gotion factory, a subsidiary of the Hefei, China–based Gotion High–Tech, located outside of Slotkin‘s congressional district, has sparked controversy due to the company‘s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Yet, Slotkin and her deputy legislative director Austin Girelli signed NDAs to discuss the proposal, according to her office. A spokesperson said it was important for the Michigan lawmaker to “learn more about significant economic development projects like this to better understand their impact, and if there are ways to help from the federal level.”
However, Slotkin and her staff have ignored multiple requests from Fox News Digital to explain why the NDA was signed and if it was appropriate to hide such negotiations from the public.
The revelation that Slotkin signed the hush agreement came as the Gotion project received increasing scrutiny from national security experts, lawmakers, and locals concerned about the company‘s Chinese ties.
Rep. John Moolenaar, R–Mich., who represents the district where the plant would be constructed, has fiercely opposed the project and expressed concern about the NDAs signed as part of its development.
“The non–disclosure agreements raise serious questions about why Gotion and the officials involved would want to hide details of the project from the public,” Moolenaar, a member of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, told Fox News Digital. “NDAs can create distrust and make the public feel like they are not getting the whole story.”
Penny Currie, the treasurer of Big Rapids Charter Township, added that the majority of locals are opposed to the project due to the secrecy surrounding it including the NDAs.
“That is one of our main concerns and is why we haven‘t been able to move forward with a decision of any kind,” she said.
Former U.S. Ambassadors Peter Hoekstra and Joseph Cella have also raised the alarm on Gotion‘s proposed facility and similar projects involving other Chinese companies. On April 4, the pair asked the Department of Justice to open a federal investigation into potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration (FARA) related to the five–year NDAs signed as part of the Gotion negotiations.
The Michigan State Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to vote Thursday morning on public funding for the Gotion project, a final hurdle for ensuring it gets financial support from the state. When asked if she still supported it, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the project would be a “game–changer“ and create “great paying jobs.”
Though the project is nearing completion, Slotkin‘s silence has left many concerned and questioning her role in the process. It remains unclear why Slotkin and other officials involved in the project signed NDAs, and if they did so to protect themselves from questions about Gotion‘s ties to the CCP.