Corporate Cash from PACs for Companies with Deep China Ties Floods into Democrat Stephanie Murphy’s Campaign

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 03: Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) speaks during a press conference on gun safety on Capitol Hill on May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings indicate that frontline Democrat Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL) has seen a flood of corporate cash into her campaign from big multinational companies with deep ties in China.

The revelations come after renewed pressure on Murphy to address the fact that her husband’s company manufactures women’s softball pants, the design patent for which she is a partial holder in China rather than in the United States. Murphy refused to be interviewed for that story, and now these revelations of her closeness with various corporate interests that have a penchant for cozying up to the Chinese Communist Party in place of helping American workers perhaps worsens the political image she is casting. While Murphy — a Vietnamese immigrant — has claimed in public statements she wants to be tough on China, these actions, from her own product to who she takes money from, tell a very different story.

Murphy, whose central Florida district is considered a particularly lucrative pickup possibility for Republicans as the GOP seeks to retake the House majority next year, is considering a statewide run in Florida against either Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) or GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. Both Rubio and DeSantis have been populist GOP crusaders against corrupted corporate influence in politics, making these revelations all-the-more interesting and relevant — and likely lines of attack should she run against either of them. But they are also important even if she declines a statewide bid, as her district — Florida’s Seventh — is currently rated by the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index to be evenly split between Democrats and Republicans in terms of voter registration numbers. With Florida picking up another congressional district due to post-Census reapportionment, and the looming redistricting controlled by the GOP-run state legislature, it is perhaps likely or at least possible, as these questions about Murphy’s loyalties keep arising, that she throws in the towel on her House seat and hands it back to the Republicans by declining to run for reelection or seeking another office. That could prove critical for Republicans, as to retake the House majority next year the GOP needs only to flip a net five seats from Democrats, a number that Republicans are increasingly bullish about.

In March of this year, Murphy took $2,500 from Anheuser-Busch’s PAC, the FEC filings show. Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch — which makes Budweiser, Bud Light, and other popular beers — in 2008. Less than a decade later Anheuser-Busch downsized its American workforce by nearly 400 “High End” sales jobs in September 2017, and just a few months later in December 2017 opened a massive brewery in China instead of in America that can produce 1.5 million tons of beer a year.

She also last month took another $2,500 from the corporate PAC for BBVA USA Bancshares Inc., a bank that in 2015 opened branches in China.

At the end of March, she took two $5,000 donations from Cigna’s PAC, despite the fact that the health insurance giant has developed deep ties with the Chinese Communist Party. Cigna, per a November 2009 report from the Hartford Business Journal, began offering that year “its first comprehensive health care product” in China after six years of development in the Communist country. As of 2020, Cigna is still partnered with a Chinese state-owned conglomerate called China Merchants Group.

Murphy took another $2,500 at the very end of March from Comcast Corporation & NBCUniversal’s PAC, despite Comcast’s shift to China. In 2017, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts called China a “very, very big opportunity” for his company. Later, in February 2020, officials from the Chinese Consulate in New York actually visited Comcast’s Philadelphia headquarters during which officials from both sides — those who represented the Chinese Communist Party and those who represented Comcast — praised the others.

Murphy took $2,000 more from Morgan Stanley’s PAC, despite the financial firm being selected in 2020 by the Chinese Communist Party to advise China on several multi-billion-dollar pipeline deals. She took another $1,000 from Samsung Electronics America, Inc., PAC, despite the company announcing in 2019 it would contract Chinese manufacturers for at least 20 percent of its smartphone production. Samsung had previously manufactured almost all of its phones in South Korea, Vietnam, and India — three countries not hostile to the United States. Murphy took $1,000 more from State Street Bank and Trust Company Voluntary’s PAC, despite the bank’s decision to, according to the Boston Business Journal, cut thousands of jobs in America and shift them to places including China and elsewhere around the world.

Murphy also took $1,000 more from the PAC for Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., a pharmaceutical giant that announced in 2020 “aggressive” expansion plans in China. A November 2020 press release from the company made clear that this expansion included massive new investment in China.

Even the PACs for Home Depot and Wal-Mart backed Murphy with $5,000 and $1,000 donations, respectively, despite their issues with shifting to China away from the United States. Home Depot was caught in 2011 laying off American workers while expanding overseas, according to a local news report in Atlanta. The company was also, per an ABC News report in 2011, the target of a lawsuit claiming it violated the Buy American Act by selling the U.S. government goods manufactured in China. Home Depot also had manufacturing centers in China that, during the Trump administration in 2019, the company said it was moving to avoid tariff costs. As for Wal-Mart, an Economic Policy Institute study in December 2015 estimated that the company’s growing trade deficit with China cost over 400,000 U.S. jobs.

This article has been updated.

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