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Haley Campaign Press Release - Washington Examiner: Ron DeSantis Lied About Subsidies to Chinese Companies

November 30, 2023

CHARLESTON, S.C. — After being called out multiple times by independent fact-checkers, it should come as no surprise that Ron DeSantis has been lying for months about his record of giving state subsidies to Chinese companies in Florida. The Washington Examiner uncovered repeated subsidies to JinkoSolar, a solar panel manufacturer with ties to the Chinese Communist Party that was raided by the Department of Homeland Security a few months ago.

The more Ron DeSantis loses, the more he lies.

DeSantis gave federally investigated Chinese company tax credit, despite earlier denials

By: Naomi Lim, White House Reporter
Read here
November 30, 2023

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) provided tax relief to a federally investigated subsidiary of a Chinese company, according to Florida state government records, despite claiming in the past his administration had not supported the business.

JinkoSolar, a Chinese Communist Party-connected solar panel manufacturer whose factory in Jacksonville was raided by the Department of Homeland Security last spring after allegations it violated the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in 2022, received $90,000 from DeSantis in 2020 through his urban job tax credit program, according to Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity JinkoSolar was eligible because it created 90 jobs in Duval County that year.

When asked about JinkoSolar, DeSantis's gubernatorial spokesman referred the Washington Examiner to the Florida Department of Commerce, which works in tandem with the Department of Economic Opportunity on the tax program. Commerce Department spokeswoman Rose Hebert did not deny the kickback, but contended it was a continuation from Sen. Rick Scott's (R-FL) previous Republican administration.

"As we have made explicitly clear, this company was recruited by the [Rick] Scott Administration and all incentives they received were a result of that recruitment," Hebert said. "Further, when the governor signed HB5 in 2023, he prohibited all Chinese companies (and any company from the seven foreign countries of concern in Florida law) from ever receiving state incentives in Florida."

The revelation comes after the DeSantis administration, the DeSantis campaign, and the DeSantis-aligned political action committee Never Back Down underscored how he had distanced Florida from China, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to inquiries about JinkoSolar last and this month, DeSantis allies emphasized how the governor had not sought Chinese foreign investment in Florida, nor had helped companies already invested in the state. They did concede that some companies had experienced Florida tax advantages since DeSantis's inauguration in 2019, but repeated those were because of Scott.

JinkoSolar had $125,000 in tax refunds in 2019-20 and $237,500 in 2021-22, according to the now-defunct state public-private economic development partnership Enterprise Florida. Enterprise Florida's online presence was deleted from the internet amid the same reporting by the Washington Examiner.

The revelation also comes ahead of next Wednesday's fourth 2024 Republican primary debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized one another over their respective dealings with China and Chinese companies during the third Republican debate in Miami earlier this month.

"Yes, I brought a fiberglass company 10 years ago to South Carolina, but, Ron, you are the chair of your economic development agency that, as of last week, said, 'Florida is the ideal place for Chinese businesses,'" Haley said. "Not only that, you have a company that is [a] manufacturer of Chinese military planes. You have it. They are expanding two training sites at two of your airports now, one of which is 12 miles away from a naval base. Then you have another company that's expanding and they were just invaded by the Department of Homeland Security."

Haley was referencing Cirrus Aircraft, owned by sanctioned Chinese military manufacturer Aviation Industry Corporation of China, which makes fighter jets, helicopters, and drones for the People's Liberation Army.

"You gave them stuff. I didn't give 'em anything," DeSantis responded.

"Yours was six months ago. What's your story?" Haley replied.

California Polytechnic State University professor emeritus Steven Mintz, an ethics expert, agreed with Haley's argument given "times have changed" and the U.S. has "a different relationship with China than we had before."

"It's kind of interesting that Ron DeSantis signed the bill in Florida to ban Chinese [investment] May 8 of this year. He announced his candidacy May 24," Mintz said. "To DeSantis's credit, he did change gears."

The city of Jacksonville approved a proposal for JinkoSolar to get $2.3 million in property tax rebates over a decade last April, but withdrew the relevant legislation after the raid. JinkoSolar, which still plans to extend its Florida plant, has downplayed the investigation, but acknowledged "subsidies from local and provincial governments" in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. JinkoSolar director Xianhua Li has been a professor at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences' Institute of Geology and Geophysics, with the academy being the People's Republic of China's scientific think tank and academic governing body.

"It is important to note that while the government has not told us what this investigation is about, since the inception of [the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act], and through the present day, Customs and Border Protection has reviewed and released all of Jinko's solar panels based on documentation provided by the company," a JinkoSolar spokesman said.

Nikki Haley, Haley Campaign Press Release - Washington Examiner: Ron DeSantis Lied About Subsidies to Chinese Companies Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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