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Exclusive: Marco Rubio Renews Aggressive Back-And-Forth With McKinsey Over Company’s Ties To Beijing

Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is continuing to press McKinsey and Company for answers about the powerful firm’s business dealings with the Chinese Communist Party. In a Nov. 13 letter shared exclusively with The Federalist, Rubio grilled Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader with questions the senator claims McKinsey is dodging.

“If companies like McKinsey want to work with the U.S. Government, they must be much more forthcoming with the nature of their foreign entanglements,” Rubio told The Federalist. “China is playing a zero-sum game and we cannot, as a nation, afford to get this wrong.”

Since Rubio first inquired about the company’s relationship with the CCP in June, Liz Hilton Segel, McKinsey’s managing partner for North America operations, has responded twice. “Neither letter, despite their length, sufficiently addresses the purpose of my original correspondence: the long-standing and growing concerns surrounding McKinsey’s relationships with the CCP and how those relationships may impact McKinsey’s paid work for the United States Government,” Rubio wrote on Nov. 13.

Rubio’s new letter accuses McKinsey of evading questions, including whether any of its past or present clients “work in areas of critical national interest to the United States, including health care, pharmaceuticals, health care equipment and supplies, telecommunications, and military or civil defense” and what “safeguards” the consulting firm has in place “to ensure that work done on behalf of the [U.S. government] does not inform” its work for the Chinese government.

Given McKinsey’s reported work with the Chinese government on its Belt and Road Initiative, which Rubio describes as “designed to undermine America’s global economic influence and reduce American companies’ presence abroad,” the senator asked, “How can the USG and American companies be confident the advice it receives from McKinsey is not compromised by the company’s work with the CCP and other Chinese interests?”

Rubio’s November follow-up notes the powerhouse company failed to answer the same question when asked previously.

The senator, acting chairman of the upper chamber’s Select Committee on Intelligence, also pushed McKinsey on its partnership with the World Health Organization, asking if it “ever, inadvertently or otherwise, contribute[d] to the spread of faulty or misleading information provided by the CCP. Rubio pushed Sneader on New York Times reporting that McKinsey “advised opioid manufacturers on how best to increase sales, including by targeting doctors and increasing mail order prescription fulfillment.”

“Did McKinsey previously perform ‘opioid related work’ in China?” Rubio inquired. “Or did it ever work for a client engaged in opioid manufacturing and distribution in China?”

Rubio further asked McKinsey to elaborate on the “due diligence” it claims to take when screening clients linked to human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where Uyghur Muslims are being held in concentration camps, “given how opaque the links are between many Chinese state-owned firms and their role in these operations in Xinjiang.”

In an Aug. 20 letter to Rubio, McKinsey claimed it couldn’t provide answers on the “size and role” of the CCP’s presence within the company because it’s “generally unaware of and does not track the private political affiliations of its employees.”

Rubio countered by arguing “the company should generally be aware of public reporting regarding its employees,” since McKinsey employees have claimed in official Chinese newspapers “to lead party branches within the company’s offices in China.” The senator pressed Sneader for specific details on CCP branches within McKinsey and the date on which he learned about the existence of a CCP committee within the company.

Rubio’s aggressive grilling comes as Joe Biden tapped Louisa Terrell to helm the legislative affairs effort for his presidential transition. Terrell, a former employee of Biden’s Senate office and charitable foundation, worked for the past year as the deputy general counsel and head of public affairs at McKinsey, according to LinkedIn. Pete Buttigieg, “the name most commonly touted for a potential position” in Biden’s administration, struggled during the primary with questions about his time at McKinsey from 2007-2010.

Asked by The Federalist why it’s a risk to the United States if McKinsey is compromised by its financial relationship with China, Rubio said, “The Chinese Communist Party has a very clear objective—to become the most powerful and influential country in the world. To do that, it must overtake America. In McKinsey, you have a company that is deeply embedded in the U.S. economy and has access to sensitive information from our government. The company also has substantial relationships in China.”

“What we do not know—and what McKinsey has been reluctant to reveal—is the nature of those relationships, including whether its work benefits the CCP,” he added.