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Chinese telecom firm paid top Bolduc aide's firm $480,000 in lobbying fees

The New Hampshire Republican’s senior adviser Rick Wiley represented a partially state-owned Chinese telecommunications company.

By Josh Israel - October 04, 2022
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Don Bolduc
New Hampshire Republican U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc gestures as he is introduced during a debate, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Henniker, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

New Hampshire Senate Republican nominee Don Bolduc has called for the United States to get “tough on China.” But a senior adviser to his campaign once was a registered lobbyist on behalf of a Chinese telecommunications company that is partially state-owned.

On Sept. 29, Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced a bill that would bar companies that receive public funding from the CHIPS and Science Act “from building or transferring any semiconductor manufacturing operations to China for 10 years.”

Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for Senate in New Hampshire in 2020, backed the legislation on Friday, calling it a “great start” in the effort to “be tough on China.”

On Sept. 19, Bolduc demanded that the U.S. prohibit Chinese companies from owning American land, writing in a post on Facebook:

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is an existential threat to the United States of America. They have undermined our financial, political, educational, diplomatic, and informational institutions. The CCP is monopolizing trade, controls critical manufacturing, substantially expanding its military, and striping [sic] countries of its natural resources. We must develop a China resistant policy. Their activities in the United States and outside the United States is [sic] weakening us from within and the Biden Administration with the support of Senator Hassan is allowing this to happen. The owning of land in the United States by Chinese businesses must be prevented and a law passed making it illegal.

“I would support a ban on the Chinese Communists buying anything in this country,” he said at an August GOP debate. “They’re an existential threat to this great nation. And if we don’t get them out of our institutions, we’re going to lose this nation. And that’s the bottom line. It’s not about the Chinese people; it’s about the Chinese Community Party.”

“China is an existential threat in America,” Bolduc told the Northern Grafton County Republican Committee in January, “and we need to do everything we possibly can to push back on everything that China does.”

In January, Bolduc hired veteran Republican strategist Rick Wiley as a senior adviser to his campaign. Bolduc’s campaign has paid Wiley’s company, 1060 Group, Inc., $52,500 for “strategy consulting.” In a Sept. 21 podcast interview, Wiley said his position on the campaign “constitutes running the whole show right now.”

Wiley briefly served as political director for former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. But Trump reportedly fired Wiley in just a few weeks after he clashed with Karen Giorno, another campaign aide.

In 2018, ZTE Corporation, a Chinese telecommunications company, hired Wiley’s lobbying firm, Black Diamond Strategies. Wiley is a partner at the firm and was listed on lobbying disclosure records as personally working on the ZTE account from November 2018 until the start of 2019. In all, ZTE paid Black Diamond Strategies at least $480,000 to lobby on regulatory issues, including bills specifically related to oversight of the company.

ZTE calls itself a “global leader in telecommunications and information technology.” While it is a publicly-traded business and claims it “is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government or any entities affiliated with the Chinese government,” it acknowledges that “Chinese state-owned entities are shareholders” in the company.

A March 2019 Wall Street Journal report estimated that 30% of ZTE was owned by controlling shareholder Zhongxingxin. Almost 50% of Zhongxingxin is controlled by the Chinese government.

In 2017, ZTE and the U.S. government agreed to a nearly $900 million settlement after ZTE violated sanctions against Iran and engaged in obstruction of justice. The company admitted that it had spent six years trying to obtain American technology, send it to Iran, and hide its involvement.

“Rick Wiley is not a registered lobbyist. His name was inadvertently listed on an account associated with his firm and subsequently removed,” Bolduc campaign spokesperson Kate Constantini told the American Independent Foundation in an emailed statement.

But lobbying records show that Wiley’s firm never corrected the two filings that listed him as a lobbyist via an amendment form. And as a firm partner, he would have profited from the contract even if he did not work on it himself.

Bolduc will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in November.

Hassan and other New Hampshire Democrats have attacked Bolduc for publicly opposing the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which will invest hundreds of billions of dollars in helping American businesses compete with China.

Recent polls have shown Hassan ahead in what is expected to be a competitive race.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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