(The Center Square) – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said the state has identified $2 billion in unclaimed assets in Florida linked to “wholly” owned Chinese companies that it may target as restitution for costs incurred from the coronavirus pandemic.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody joined 17 other state attorneys general in calling on Congress to investigate China’s Communist Party for an alleged “massive conspiracy to cover up and mislead the international community about the severity and highly contagious nature of the novel coronavirus.”
Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a China hardliner before the COVID-19 emergency, called on Americans to boycott Chinese-made goods.
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican, has warned law enforcement agencies that Chinese-made drones many have purchased are part of a “Trojan horse spying operation.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, in his COVID-19 briefings, routinely accuses China of withholding disclosure about the coronavirus to hoard personal protective equipment and other supplies “to try to screw over the rest of the world.”
Sunshine State officials are in a full-court press against China, blaming the Communist Party of China for the public health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak that began in Wuhan last fall.
In an April 23 letter to China’s U.S. Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Patronis warned his office “is reviewing two options to pursue recovery” for Florida's COVID-19 costs.
On Monday, Patronis told former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Newsmax his office has uncovered several “wholly” owned Chinese companies with $2 billion in unclaimed assets in Florida.
“China should own the problems they've caused this country and the state of Florida due to their mishandling of #COVID19. Let’s find any unclaimed property of Chinese-owned companies and look at ways to use it to help Florida,” he later tweeted.
China should own the problems they've caused this country and the state of Florida due to their mishandling of #COVID19. Let’s find any unclaimed property of Chinese-owned companies and look at ways to use it to help Florida. pic.twitter.com/OQvYpyDSQ1— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) May 11, 2020
Moody, in a Monday letter to the leadership of U.S. House and Senate foreign relations committees, called for an investigation into the Chinese government’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need answers, and we need them soon,” Moody wrote. “Americans are dying and millions are losing their jobs. We demand to know whether China lied to the world as the coronavirus rapidly traveled from Wuhan to our shores – infecting and killing thousands along the way.”
Moody joined 17 other state attorneys general in citing “layers of deceit” that began last year when Chinese health officials and Taiwanese complaints were “censored and muzzled.”
On Guy Benson’s Fox News radio show Monday, Scott said Americans should boycott Chinese-made goods.
“No American should ever buy one product ever made from communist China. They are not our friend. They’re not a competitor. They’re clearly an adversary,” Scott said. “We should buy American products. It’s going to help American jobs. But we need to understand what communist China is. It is run by the Communist Party. They act in the best interest of the Communist Party. They steal our jobs. They steal our technology.”
In a May 5 letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, Gaetz asked the U.S. Department of Justice to order U.S. law enforcement agencies to stop buying Chinese-made drones and ground those produced by Dà-Jiāng Innovations (DJI).
“China is massively expanding a Trojan horse spying operation in our country, and your local police department may be unknowingly helping them,” Gaetz wrote in the letter, citing a 2017 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report that said DJI was targeting law enforcement and “critical infrastructure companies” to collect and forward data to the Communist Party of China.
According to DJI’s website, it has sold drones to 45 police agencies in 22 U.S. states, including two to the Daytona Beach Police Department.