An NBA owner and hefty Democratic donor offered an out-of-bounds assessment of human rights violations in China. National Republicans responded with a full-court press on any politicians taking contributions from Golden State Warriors investor Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive. That’s a roster that includes U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, Val Demings, and Darren Soto, as well as Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
The venture capitalist dismissed China’s alleged persecution of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang province on his All-In Podcast, as reported by NPR.
“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, OK?” he said. “You bring it up because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you really care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things I care about, yes, it’s below my line.”
Pushed on the issue by a co-host, Palihapitiya continued, “If you’re asking me do I care about a segment of a class of people in another country? Not until we can take care of ourselves will I prioritize them over us.”
Except many Florida political leaders care quite a bit.
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, whom Demings is challenging, dedicated massive efforts this year to championing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which in December became law. The Chinese treatment of the ethnic group has prompted intense criticism from other Florida pols on both sides of the aisle.
Palihapitiya’s comments prompted the Warriors’ leadership to distance themselves, calling Palihapitiya — who owns 10% of the team — a “limited investor” who “does not speak on behalf of our franchise.” Now, Republicans say Democrats cashing his checks must do the same.
“Question for Val Demings, Darren Soto, Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried: Do you support the comments from Palihapitiya and his lack of concern for genocide?” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Julia Friedland. “To the Florida Democratic Party that took contributions from a man who openly says he doesn’t care about tortured groups: will you be returning the money?”
Crist and Fried both have filed to challenge Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election, and national Republicans list Soto as a congressional target this year.