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Dem running to unseat Rep. Elise Stefanik ID’ed as lawyer for Chinese state media outlet

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A Democratic congressional candidate running against New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik is a lawyer who once represented the Chinese state media outlet, China Daily, according to a Wednesday report.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that Matthew Putorti represented the Beijing-run propaganda outlet in a lawsuit in 2019, citing public records.

Putorti became the main challenger to Stefanik, who was recently named to the House Republican leadership’s No. 3 position, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, with a strong fundraising start to his campaign, the outlet reported.

The attorney was China Daily’s sole legal representation in a 2019 copyright complaint that was filed by an American photographer, according to public documents reviewed by the Free Beacon. As an attorney with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLC, Putorti filed a number of legal motions on behalf of his Chinese state media client starting in February 2019.

The China Daily is the primary international propaganda organ for Beijing’s Communist government, pushing the regime’s message out to the world. In February 2020, the State Department listed the outlet as a propaganda organ for the ChiCom government.

According to Foreign Agent Registration Act filings that the Free Beacon reviewed, the media organization “spends millions of dollars annually to publish pro-China articles in U.S. publications.”

Putorti’s representation of the regime occurred around the same time that China was increasing its spending on international propaganda initiatives. Currently, China Daily is one of the primary outlets used by the Beijing regime to discredit the U.S. while deflecting the government’s reported mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past year, The New York Times ended a long-running financial relationship with China Daily as the paper discreetly began scrubbing propaganda the outlet had concocted.

Putorti’s involvement with the China Daily case does not seem to be an outlier, according to the Free Beacon. His “firm does extensive work with the Chinese—the firm has three offices in China and devotes an entire section on its website—a great deal of which is written in Mandarin—to its status as a ‘first choice’ law firm for Chinese executives,” the outlet reported.

The firm’s website further promotes its attorneys’ “cultural sensitivity and experience” with intricate international dealings to the benefit of Chinese firms.

While Putorti was still with the firm, lawyers there assisted with litigation involving a multimillion-dollar arbitration matter involving Trina Solar, one of China’s gargantuan solar manufacturers, as well as Chinese firm E-Town Capital’s $300 million acquisition of an American semiconductor company.

The Beijing-based E-Town Capital noted in 2020 that the firm is officially backed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Meanwhile, the semiconductor subsidiary, the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, was subsequently put on a blacklist by the former Trump administration over links to China’s military.

It’s not clear if the Democratic congressional candidate worked on any of those deals, the Free Beacon noted. According to the law firm’s website, he mostly specializes in cases regarding international arbitration, as with Trina Solar.

“What is troubling is that some respected American publications are taking money from the CCP to run China Daily inserts that are not clearly labeled as Chinese government propaganda,” Ian Easton, a senior director at the Project 2049 Institute, told the Free Beacon regarding the propaganda outlet.

“If American readers knew the source of their news was taking money from a genocidal regime, they might opt to boycott that source,” he added.

Stefanik was recently elected by GOP members to take over the House Republican Conference chair. She has represented her district in upstate New York since 2015.

Jon Dougherty

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