"Don't trust Mark Kelly, Mark Kelly is Asshoe"
That was the theme of the afternoon once ComfortablySmug got a hold of an article published by Susan Crabtree at Real Clear Politics. The article, which published earlier today, explores Mark Kelly's (who is running to unseat incumbent Senator Martha McSally this November) ties to World View Enterprises, a company Kelly co-founded, and financing it received from a Chinese tech firm (source: RCP):
Kelly, however, has been far more reticent about the investment by a Chinese company in a commercial space exploration venture he co-founded. The company, tech giant Tencent, is one of the world’s largest internet enterprises and owns the Chinese social media platform WeChat. The text platform has more than a billion users and is suspected of monitoring the activity of many of them inside and outside of China.
A recent University of Toronto study found that WeChat has been censoring keywords relating to the COVID-19 outbreak since at least Jan. 1. Several prominent lawmakers in recent weeks have deemed Tencent an arm of the Chinese Communist Party and a threat to U.S. national security. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley in late April introduced a bill aimed at preventing Chinese espionage by prohibiting U.S. federal employees from conducting official business over platforms run by Tencent, Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies and barring U.S. tax dollars from being used for any international contracts with those firms.
Kelly served as a strategic adviser to World View until launching his Senate campaign last year. He maintains a personal financial stake in the company of between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of non-public stock and $15,001 and $50,000 worth of stock options, according to the financial disclosure records Kelly was required to file in his Senate bid. His eldest daughter also works there as the company’s business opportunity manager.
The article, which appears to raise questions as to conflicts of interest Kelly may have on issues related to China, fell on mostly deaf ears in bluecheck twitter world (you're shocked, I know), that is until ComfortablySmug finished sharpening his knives:
Oh, well THAT'S convenient.
After Smug opened the floodgates, his Minions went to work:
"China, We Have a Problem" ~ Mark Kelly, probably.
“Mark is a U.S. Navy combat veteran who served in the Pacific and has been clear that China is an adversary and threat to American interests,” Kelly campaign spokesman Jacob Peters told RCP. “Mark’s experience as a pilot and astronaut enabled him to help found World View in Tucson, which has worked with the Department of Defense and NASA among others while creating jobs and generating millions in economic impact.”
Peters referred all questions about the amount of Tencent’s investment to World View. A company spokeswoman downplayed Tencent’s level of investment, saying it came from Tencent subsidiary Mount McKinley, “an early investor,” which now maintains “less than 5% in common stock.”
It remains, however, very unlikely that we've heard the last of this story.
cover image by @peekaso