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Filed under: 2020 Runoffs

Sketchy security clearance timeline raises fresh China concerns for Ossoff — ‘Pathetic and disqualifying’

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FEATURED

The memo:

  • A Monday reported revealed that Jon Ossoff promoted a propaganda outlet run by the Chinese Communist Party.
  • This raises more questions involving his deep, troubling ties to China.
  • Ossoff's misleading 2017 claims about his national security background make the issue that much more concerning.

Jon Ossoff can’t seem to escape issues related to China on the campaign trail recently. However, the political problem is all his own doing.

A report published Monday by the Washington Free Beacon revealed that Ossoff in 2012 promoted a state propaganda outlet run by the Chinese Communist Party. The tweet was still up as of Monday evening, encouraging Twitter users to follow the propaganda:

That report would have been eyebrow raising on its own, as this very same Chinese state-run media outlet has rebuffed recent U.S. demands to register as a foreign agent.

Yet, Ossoff’s China ties run much deeper — and are that much more troubling.

The latest revelation especially highlights his long running security clearance saga.

When unsuccessfully running for Congress in 2017, Ossoff earned a “Pinocchio” from The Washington Post for misleading Georgians about his background. He had claimed of his time working for Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), “I’ve got five years of experience as a national security staffer in the U.S. Congress. I held top secret security clearance.”

Yet, the Post noted that Ossoff only had his security clearance for five months, with a good portion of his overall time working for Johnson coming as a part-time college student.

Compounding concerns, Monday’s report also came on the heels of Axios’ bombshell revelation that a Chinese spy spent years trying to compromise Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and other politicians. On top of that, recent reporting indicates Hunter Biden is under federal investigation for — at least in part — dealings involving China and the Chinese Communist Party.

Now, observers are no doubt wondering if it is worth investigating if Ossoff may be caught up in a similar scheme.

Could the Democratic Senate hopeful be a poster boy for China’s efforts to manipulate young U.S. officials in order to gain influence in Washington?

In Axios’ reporting, the publication noted that the information Ossoff would have had brief access to as a Johnson congressional staffer is exactly what China is after: “Private but unclassified information about government officials — such as their habits, preferences, schedules, social networks, and even rumors about them — is a form of political intelligence. Collecting such information is a key part of what foreign intelligence agencies do.”

However, Ossoff’s Chinese issues are much more recent — and wider — than just his time working in Congress.

Soon after running ads in 2017 embellishing his national security background, Ossoff started to earn income from a Chinese company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party. He later failed to disclose those business dealings during the 2020 Democratic primary, before amending a disclosure and then having his campaign run interference on the truth.

National Review reported, “Ossoff, whose role as CEO of a London-based producer of investigative documentaries has drawn scrutiny over the years, reported in an amended financial statement that he has received at least $5,000 from PCCW Media Limited over the last two years — a detail that has previously gone unreported. Ossoff did not disclose his ties to PCCW in his initial financial report, which he filed in May. PCCW, the largest telecom agency in Hong Kong, is run by Chairman Richard Li, son of Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing. Li also serves as a councilor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank. But for years, Li has spoken out against Hong Kong independence and the pro-democracy protests that have rocked the island as the Chinese Communist Party has consolidated control.”

Even more recently, Ossoff last week refused to release business records related to China and countless other foreign actors, per The Washington Post. He reportedly told the Post that those records would “remain confidential.” He also advised the paper that he has not decided what he will do with his role at his company and company ownership if he is elected. Therefore, the people of Georgia have no idea if Ossoff would continue his work for CCP-linked companies while in office.

Ossoff will face U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) on January 5. Early voting is ongoing.

“Jon Ossoff’s China scandal keeps getting worse as he hides the truth from Georgians,” Perdue for Senate communications director John Burke said in a statement. “How can Ossoff ask voters to trust that he would stand up to China after he worked for them and promoted their propaganda? Ossoff’s inability to be honest about his dealings with one of America’s adversaries is pathetic and disqualifying.”

Ossoff has also attracted national attention regarding his ties to China.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) took Ossoff to task, saying the Democrat is a “trust fund socialist who took money from a company linked to the Chinese Communist Party, then tried to hide it on his financial disclosure.”

In turn, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Senator-elect Bill Hagerty (R-TN) called on Ossoff to fully disclose the amount of money he has received from PCCW.

National Review’s report followed an ethics complaint lodged against Ossoff for the alleged discrepancies in his financial disclosures and the revelation that his “millionaire father met with Chinese ‘dignitaries’ while touring a 60-foot yacht he purchased from a China-based shipbuilder tied to Communist Party officials.”

Fox News’ Dana Perino noted earlier this month Jon Ossoff fits the profile of an ideal target for Chinese espionage and influence efforts.

“Jon Ossoff, one of the Democrats that’s running, has had to amend his financial disclosure because his documentary film company after — remember he ran for the House, made a ton, got a ton of money to run for that race — didn’t win. After that, all of a sudden this Chinese communist media company out of Hong Kong that was basically very much against the protest started donating or funding this documentary film company,” Perino said. “And David Perdue, the Senator that is challenging him said, you need to make that right, you need to be honest about that and transparent about it. And Ossoff had to amend his financial dealings. I’ve got to tell you if you look at — who do they target? Up and coming young progressive people. You know, if I were in Georgia, I would take a look.”

Erick Erickson made a similar argument, drawing parallels between Ossoff and Swalwell.

“This all fits China’s pattern,” he outlined. “They found an up-and-coming political figure ‘who had the potential to make it big on the national stage’ and they started funding his career and rise through third-party companies indisputably tied to the Chinese Communist Party. Now, as Ossoff tries to get into the United States Senate, Georgia voters may want to consider this pattern. Eric Swalwell was compromised by a Chinese spy. Swalwell sat on the Intelligence Committee. Ossoff claims he had an intelligence clearance while working for members of Congress. Swalwell was very clearly charting a bigger path and Ossoff indisputably was. Keep in mind the Chinese are not out to get classified information…There’s no spy that we know of associated with Ossoff. But there are payments from Chinese Communists to his company. Ossoff may not have been compromised per se, but China certainly seems to think it should have relations of some kind with him.”

Perdue himself discussed Ossoff’s worrying China ties in a Monday interview with Hugh Hewitt.

“Look, Jon Ossoff in his career has only really done one thing,” the Republican senator remarked. “He calls himself a documentary journalist. His biggest client in the last nine years — in a business that his daddy bought for him — was Al Jazeera, the spokespeople for terrorists and ISIS… This shows bad judgment, and it’s a real dangerous thing on the back of the Swalwell scandal and also the Hunter Biden scandal. It shows what China’s doing: they’re finding these young impressionable liberals and they’re developing strong relationships.”

“This is the scandal that Ossoff has not come clean on. For two years he worked for them and he hid it. He got caught and then he lied about it… Jon Ossoff has really not answered any of those [questions], but it goes bigger than that. Like you said, he’s really got no life experience to bring. He’s a career politician wannabe,” Perdue added.

Sean Ross is the editor-in-chief of The Georgia Memo and Yellowhammer News. You can reach him via email at Sean@GeorgiaMemo.com