Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) has reportedly accepted tens of thousands of dollars of campaign donations from Uyghur labor-linked corporations during his time in Congress.
Cartwright’s filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) showed he had accepted 33 donations totaling over $37,000 during his career in Congress from political action committees (PACs) connected to corporations linked to Uyghur labor, according to the non-partisan think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
Cartwright has received $37,000 in campaign contributions from PACs in connection with the companies listed by the ASPI’s research: one contribution of $1,000 from Science Applications International Corporation PAC, two contributions totaling $2,000 from Siemens Corporation PAC, two contributions totaling $4,500 from Hewlett Packard (HP) Enterprise Company PAC, six contributions totaling $6,000 from Google Inc NetPAC, nine contributions totaling $9,000 from General Electric (GE) political action committees, and 13 contributions totaling $14,500 from Walmart Inc. PAC.
ASPI’s research identified 82 companies that have been potentially directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through alleged abusive labor transfer programs since 2017 and as recently as 2019. The research led to 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces — which claim to be a part of the supply chain of 82 well-known global brands — using Uyghur labor that has been transferred from Xinjiang since 2017.
The non-partisan think tank estimated that between 2017 and 2019, over 80,000 Uyghurs “were transferred out of Xinjiang and assigned to factories through labor transfer programs under a central government policy known as ‘Xinjiang Aid.’”
“It is extremely difficult for Uyghurs to refuse or escape these work assignments, which are enmeshed with the apparatus of detention and political indoctrination both inside and outside of Xinjiang,” the think tank explained. “In addition to constant surveillance, the threat of arbitrary detention hangs over minority citizens who refuse their government-sponsored work assignments.”
ASPI’s research added:
The data is based on published supplier lists, media reports, and the factories’ claimed suppliers. ASPI reached out to these 82 brands to confirm their relevant supplier details. Where companies responded before publication, we have included their relevant clarifications in this report. If any company responses are made available after publication of the report, we will address these online.
ASPI notes that a small number of brands advised they have instructed their vendors to terminate their relationships with these suppliers in 2020. Others, including Adidas, Bosch and Panasonic, said they had no direct contractual relationships with the suppliers implicated in the labour schemes, but no brands were able to rule out a link further down their supply chain.
The report includes an appendix that details the factories involved and the brands that appear to have elements of forced Uyghur labour in their supply chains. It also makes specific recommendations for the Chinese government, companies, foreign governments and civil society organisations.
All of this comes as the congressman — who is up for reelection this year — is tied up in two recent ethics scandals after Breitbart News reported that an ethics watchdog group said Cartwright is involved in a potential conflict of interest after visiting GE’s Research facility in upstate New York last month while holding up to $15,000 in GE stock.
The congressman’s tour also came just over a week after President Joe Biden signed the $280 billion Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act — meant to boost domestic semiconductor production — which would reportedly help GE, a company in which Cartwright holds stock.
Additionally, last month, Cartwright was also involved in an ethics scandal when he was seen in a commercial praising his top donor’s multi-million-dollar law firm after he was filmed talking about his newly passed bill about water contamination at Camp Lejeune. One of the firm’s partners is Jerry Parker, who donated the maximum legal amount to the congressman’s campaign along with his wife.
Cartwright’s congressional office sent Parker a cease-and-desist letter on August 9 demanding the firm stop using the clips of him in their advertising and promotional material for the firm. Parker later apologized to Cartwright for his “overreach” in a letter. However, regardless of what the congressman’s office and donor stated, there are strict ethics rules against lawmakers using taxpayer-funded resources for commercial ventures written into the House Ethics Manual.