The husband of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is a top executive at a tech company that counts a venture capital firm linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as one of its investors, according to a report published Tuesday.
Raimondo’s husband, Andy Moffit, is the chief people officer at PathAI, a Massachusetts-based artificial intelligence firm backed in part by Danhua Capital, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Danhua, whose headquarters is in Palo Alto, Calif., was established with financial support from the CCP, the report said.
Danhua initially invested in PathAI in 2017 when it joined five other firms to contribute $11 million to the then-startup.
It’s unclear whether or how much Danhua has invested in PathAI since, but the venture capital firm includes PathAI as one of its featured “biotech & health” holdings on its website.
Danhua is backed by Zhongguancun Development Group, a state-owned enterprise funded by the Beijing municipal government that has investments in a number of technology companies — including data management and security firms, Reuters reported.
In 2018, a top official at the Center for a New American Security, a liberal think tank, testified at a congressional hearing that Danhua focuses on “emerging and disruptive technologies,” including companies that develop augmented reality.
Elsa Kania, an adjunct senior fellow at the organization, told lawmakers at the time that Danhua’s co-founder has said the investment firm is committed to “narrowing the gap” in technological development between China and the US.
Raimondo and PathAI did not respond to requests from the Free Beacon to comment on Danhua’s connection to the company.
But the report noted that because Raimondo is tasked with managing US business relationships around the world, her husband’s job with PathAI represents a potential conflict of interest.
Raimondo, the Democratic former governor of Rhode Island, told the Wall Street Journal in September that she would seek to build the relationship between Beijing and Washington despite tensions between the two countries over national security and human rights issues.
The secretary told the Journal that while China purposely makes it difficult for American companies to do business in the country and often swipes intellectual property, the US must continue to trade with the world’s second-largest economy.
“It’s just an economic fact,” she said in the interview. “I actually think robust commercial engagement will help to mitigate any potential tensions.”