Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent a letter Wednesday (Jan. 12) to Arkansas’ statewide elected officials, legislators, and county judges warning them that the Chinese Communist Party may try to influence his work through them.
“It has come to my attention that the Chinese Communist Party may attempt to use state and local officials in Arkansas to influence my work in the Senate. I want to alert you to this risk…” the letter states.
Cotton, who sits on the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, said the efforts of China to influence U.S. policy at a variety of levels is “pervasive.” He said the FBI opens a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours and that there are 2,000 open investigations into Chinese intelligence operations in U.S.
“In its quest to replace the United States as the world’s dominant superpower, the Chinese Communist Party has waged an aggressive campaign of crime, espionage, and treachery,” Cotton said.
“China’s subversion efforts are not limited to our nation’s capital: I have good reason to believe that the Chinese Communist Party may seek to enlist state and local officials to influence my actions in Congress. Therefore, I ask that you remain vigilant against Chinese influence operations. You should assume, for instance, that any request by a Chinese officials for you to contact me or my office is part of a Chinese espionage campaign,” Cotton added.
Several state legislators shared the copy of the letter on social media, but none indicated publicly they had been contacted by an official or unofficial Chinese contact.
“Chinese Communist spies cast a wide influence net among unsuspecting state and local officials hoping to coopt or entrap them on their rise up the political ladder. I urge you to remain on guard,” Cotton said.
A copy of the letter can be read here.