Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer Directs $236 Million to Electric Battery Exec Who Has Already Lost Taxpayers Millions

Dem governor lauds ‘historic’ investment after similar funding went to failed companies

Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D., Mich.) / Getty Images

Michigan Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer is making a $236 million taxpayer-funded bet on an electric battery executive whose last company lost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

Whitmer on October 5 announced a $236 million incentive package for Our Next Energy, an electric vehicle battery startup that plans to build a factory in the Great Lakes State. Weeks later, the Democrat said she was “proud” to join the company’s founder and CEO, Mujeeb Ijaz, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which saw Whitmer laud Our Next Energy as “innovative,” “historic,” and “cutting-edge.” But Ijaz has a troubled history with public funding.

Before he launched Our Next Energy, Ijaz served as a top executive at fellow electric battery maker A123 Systems after founding its automotive division in 2008. One year later, A123 secured a $249 million grant from the Obama administration, with then-president Barack Obama predicting the company would “help power the American economy for years to come.” Instead, the opposite occurred. A123 lost $269 million during an eight-month period in 2012 alone, losses that were driven in part by the company’s production of defective battery cells for Fisker Automotive—on his LinkedIn, Ijaz specifically states he led A123’s production of “battery systems” for Fisker. In October 2012, A123 declared bankruptcy and was quickly sold to Chinese automotive conglomerate Wanxiang.

Whitmer’s decision to award Ijaz after A123’s high-profile collapse comes as the Democrat faces a difficult reelection bid against Republican challenger Tudor Dixon. That race has seen Whitmer repeatedly claim she’s added 25,000 “good-paying auto jobs” during her tenure, but as of May, Michigan had actually lost thousands of auto jobs on her watch. Whitmer likely hopes her green energy investments will help voters forget those losses—the Democrat used the announcement of her Our Next Energy incentive package, for example, to tout the creation of “2,000 new jobs.” But the investments could also provide political fodder for Dixon, who has already criticized Whitmer for another grant recipient: Gotion, a Chinese battery manufacturer whose leader is a Chinese Communist Party member.

“This is something we have to hold Gretchen Whitmer accountable for,” Dixon said in a September 27 video. “Your taxpayer dollars should be used to make sure your kids are getting a world-class education, you have reliable infrastructure, that you have safe cities. But now we’re seeing taxpayer dollars go into an adversary, a Chinese corporation.”

Whitmer’s office did not return a request for comment.

At the time of its bankruptcy, A123 had already accepted $129 million in federal grant money. The company even received a $947,000 grant payment on the same day it filed for bankruptcy. In addition to the Obama administration grant, Michigan also gave A123 tens of millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks under former Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm, who now serves as President Joe Biden’s energy secretary. Granholm in 2010 said A123 would help “create 63,000 jobs in Michigan over the next decade.”

A123’s bankruptcy hardly hurt Ijaz. Following the company’s sale to Wanxiang, Ijaz in February 2013 became A123’s chief technology officer, his LinkedIn states. The role reportedly saw Ijaz earn $294,000 per month.

Our Next Energy did not return a request for comment.

A123 was not the only taxpayer-funded green energy company to fail under Obama. The Democrat’s administration in 2009 awarded solar panel company Solyndra a $535 million loan guarantee; the company declared bankruptcy and shut down all operations just months later. Obama in 2009 also approved a similar $529 million loan to Fisker, a move that then-vice president Biden said would lead to an “American manufacturing” resurgence. Instead, the company produced its vehicles in Finland and declared bankruptcy within years of receiving the loan.

Whitmer for months held a sizable polling lead over Dixon, but the race has tightened in recent weeks. An October Trafalgar Group poll showed the pair in a virtual tie, with Whitmer receiving 48.4 percent of the vote to Dixon’s 47.9 percent.

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Hunter Biden’s ‘flirty’ sex-crazed Chinese secretary who urged ‘Uncle Joe’ to run is new investigation focus

WASHINGTON — First son Hunter Biden’s “flirty” former secretary JiaQi “Jackie” Bao, who pushed for “Uncle Joe” Biden to run for president and has been linked to the Chinese government, is the focus of a new House Republican inquiry into the first family’s extensive overseas business dealings.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, demanded information Wednesday from FBI Director Christopher Wray on the Biden family’s links to Bao while Hunter and his uncle James Biden raked in $4.8 million from Chinese government-linked CEFC China Energy in 2017 and 2018.

Comer wrote that “Committee Republicans are concerned Hunter Biden may have been compromised by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and foreign intelligence services (FIS),” signaling what’s likely to be a major line of inquiry if Republicans reclaim subpoena powers by retaking the House in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

A former secretary of Hunter Biden with ties to the Chinese government is now the focus of a focus of a new House Republican inquiry into the Biden family's business dealings.
A former secretary of Hunter Biden with ties to the Chinese government is now the focus of a House Republican inquiry into the Biden family’s business dealings.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The letter says that Bao “worked for the [Chinese government’s] National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which ‘is in charge of China’s macroeconomic planning’ and approves any major project that receives foreign funding” and therefore “was linked to the Communist Party of China (CCP), her employer before the Biden family.”

“After infiltrating the Biden family, Bao urged Hunter to encourage Joe Biden to run for president months before he announced and then supplied the Biden family campaign advice related to China,” the letter says.

JiaQi “Jackie” Bao
JiaQi “Jackie” Bao told Hunter that his father “Uncle Joe” should run for president in 2020 in a text message.
LinkedIn / JiaQi Bao

“In documents obtained by Committee Republicans, Hunter Biden refers to the founders and chairman of CEFC [Ye Jianming] as his ‘partner’ and the vice-chairman of CEFC, Patrick Ho, as his client and the ‘f–king spy chief of China,’” Comer writes.

“Documents obtained by Committee Republicans reveal that Bao was also working for CEFC employees linked to the CCP. Regarding a potential US liquified natural gas (LNG) purchase Bao and the Bidens sought to sell to China, Bao told Hunter Biden, Jim Biden and CEFC associates in an email that ‘my job is to make sure our interest is protected.’”

Bao “attended negotiations with US energy companies, and helped execute financial transactions,” the letter goes on. “Bao appeared to be effectively running the joint venture under Hunter Biden’s name. She produced yearly reports and business plans for Hudson West III, the joint venture Hunter Biden created with the Chinese firm, CEFC.”

Rep. James Comer
Rep. James Comer asked FBI Director Christopher Wray for information on the Biden family’s links to Bao.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

CEFC was regarded as an arm of Beijing’s “Belt and Road” foreign influence initiative.

A May 2017 email regarding the Biden family’s CEFC partnership described the “big guy” as being due a 10% cut. Two former Hunter Biden associates, Tony Bobulinski and James Gilliar, identified Joe Biden as the “big guy” and Bobulinski says he met with Joe Biden in the same month about the deal. The president has denied making any money from his son’s overseas business deals and claimed he never even discussed the enterprises.

Comer’s letter to Wray focuses narrowly on Bao’s role. The Kentucky Republican has previously likened Bao to Fang Fang, the suspected Chinese spy who allegedly seduced House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).

“She’s a very attractive girl. … We discussed [Bao] with [a] whistleblower, and according to the whistleblower, they were more than just business associates, if you know what I mean,” Comer said in a Fox News interview last month.

Although the precise nature of Bao’s relationship with Hunter Biden is unclear, she emailed him about returning his “doggy chain necklace” and wrote in another message, “One of my New Year’s Wishes is that you could drink less … I will do anything and everything to make you happy so that alcoholic beverages’ widely believed mythical function as a stress reliever won’t be an excuse for indulgence!”

Comer asked Wray to share what the FBI knows about Bao and whether former FBI special agent Timothy Thibault, who recently resigned amid allegations he covered up evidence against Hunter Biden, had anything to do with the matter. He also asked for any information on foreign spy agencies compromising the Biden family and about CEFC efforts to buy US energy assets.

Hunter Biden
Bao once emailed Hunter Biden asking him to drink less.

“In early 2018, the Biden-CEFC venture was cut short when the Bidens’ Chinese partners
were arrested for attempting to bribe foreign leaders and other economic crimes. Nonetheless, Bao seemed determined to remain close to the Biden political orbit even after the initial relationship dissolved, a hallmark of foreign intelligence activity,” Comer’s letter continued.

“The relationship between Bao and Hunter Biden appears — from evidence obtained by Committee Republicans — to have become personal and exceeded a professional capacity. Seemingly attempting to enrich Hunter Biden, Bao told him that the disarray over the arrest of the CEFC founder ‘will present a great opportunity to gain’ and ‘you should continue to pursue this investment thesis on natural gas.’”

Comer wrote that “Bao’s efforts to remain close to the Biden family following the CEFC venture collapse raises serious concerns about Bao’s motives and plans with the Biden family.”

“Specifically, did the CCP push Bao to ensure that the Bidens continued selling American LNG to China? If so, this presents an alarming national security threat,” Comer wrote.

“To further ingratiate herself with the Biden family, Bao took a concerted interest in Joe Biden’s presidential aspirations and strategy. In December 2018, the New York Times published a story about the Biden family’s dealings with CEFC, about which — prior to printed publication — Joe Biden called his son and told him, ‘I think you’re clear.’ Shortly thereafter — and still four months before he announced it to the American people — Bao sent a text message to Hunter: ‘Uncle Joe should run for President in 2020.’”

In 2018, she reportedly wrote to the future first son that Joe Biden “will be one of the best presidents in our country’s history” and that then-President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods were “a failure thus far.”

The Post could not reach Bao for comment and Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark did not immediately respond to an inquiry regarding their relationship.

Republicans say President Biden is too soft toward China on a variety of issues, including on Chinese exports of fentanyl, which drove a record 107,000 US drug overdose deaths last year. Biden also rarely mentions an interest in determining the origins of COVID-19, which killed more than 1 million Americans after possibly leaking from a Chinese lab. Biden’s administration is openly considering repealing Trump administration tariffs on Chinese goods.

The CEFC deal was just one of an array of enterprises in which Republicans seek to better understand Joe Biden’s role.

In 2013, Hunter Biden co-founded the investment firm BHR Partners just 12 days after joining his father aboard Air Force Two for an official trip to Beijing, where he introduced his dad to BHR CEO Jonathan Li in a hotel lobby. Joe Biden later wrote college recommendation letters for Li’s children.

BHR Partners was influential in facilitating a 2016 deal in which a Chinese company bought a Congolese cobalt mine from American and Canadian companies. Cobalt is an important material for making electric vehicle batteris.

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Clark said less than a week after President Biden’s November 2021 summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the first son had divested a 10% stake in BHR Partners. But Clark and the White House provided no further details — such as who may have bought the stake and for how much — and online business records show he still holds the 10%.