Laurel Lee disclosure includes family ownership of $250K in stocks for Chinese-owned Alibaba Group
Former Secretary of State Laurel Lee.

While the Republican called attacks 'wholesale made up,' financial disclosures show another story.

Republican Laurel Lee called accusations she’s invested in Chinese-owned companies “nonsense” at a debate with Democrat Alan Cohn. But federal financial disclosures show the Lee family owns as much as $250,000 in shares of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese e-commerce company.

Cohn raised the issue for the first time at a televised debate hosted by Bay News 9 and the Tampa Bay Times. Lee and Cohn are both running for an open seat representing Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

“She and her husband are major investors in a Chinese company that is owned by a member of the Chinese Communist Party,” Cohn said.

Lee immediately denied that.

“What Mr. Cohn just had to say about my family and the Chinese Communist Party is wholesale made up,” she said, later accusing Cohn of bringing “nonsense and false allegations against me” to the debate.

Cohn during the debate identified Alibaba by name as the company he spoke about. That’s a Chinese multinational company founded by Jack Ma where Daniel Zhang Yong serves as CEO.

Notably, Ma, when he stepped down as Chair, publicly distinguished the company away from the country’s communist leadership, and earned recognition as one of China’s richest capitalist leaders. But he also is a confirmed member of the Chinese Communist Party, which honored him in 2018 as one of the 100 top members of the Central Committee in opening up China financially to the world over the prior 40 years.

Under Zhang’s leadership, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has listed the company’s success as evidence of the communist nation’s success at making China a powerful digital economy, the South China Morning Post reported this summer.

Lee’s financial disclosure shows she and her husband, former Florida Senate President Tom Lee, own between $100,001 and $250,000 worth of Alibaba stock. She also lists assets in a short position as of mid-September, indicating a belief the stocks may be overvalued.

The Republican’s campaign downplayed the matter, and said the stock does not belong to the candidate in the first place.

“This is just another desperate attempt by Alan Cohn to distract the voters from his support of (Joe) Biden’s economic policy that is devastating our country and driving inflation to record levels,” said Sarah Bascom, Lee’s spokesperson.

“Laurel Lee doesn’t personally own any Alibaba stock. Her husband owns and manages a large portfolio of stocks that is not a marital asset and which she has no control over, but under House rules, all her husband’s holdings are required to be reported in her filing, which they were.”

Notably, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, came under fire last year after he initially failed to disclose his own ownership in up to $50,000 worth of Alibaba stock. He has since sold assets, but then made three more purchases of the stocks valued at up to $300,000 a piece, according to CNBC.

Cohn’s campaign after the debate accused Lee of lying about her stake in the company.

“Throughout this campaign Laurel Lee has tried to hide her extreme positions on critical issues and duck inquiries into her intentions in Washington, but purposefully lying about owning hundreds of thousands of dollars of stock in a Chinese company owned by a Communist Party member is a new low for her,” Cohn said.

“Unlike multimillionaire Laurel Lee, I’m a middle class guy who faces the same kinds of challenges that so many Floridians do every day, and that’s why I’ll fight for policies that lift up middle class families. I’m an investigative reporter, and I do my homework — Laurel Lee needs to apologize to the voters for lying to them and explain how she can be expected to put America first when so much of her wealth is tied up in a Chinese company.”

Of note, the ownership of Alibaba as disclosed showed the assets as part of a TD Ameritrade account, likely indicating Lee did not personally make the investment.

In addition to the major investment, she lists $1001 to $15,000 worth of ordinary shares.

Excerpt from Laurel Lee’s federal financial disclosures.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Tom

    October 22, 2022 at 8:25 am

    Tom legend here.
    These Republicans are Russian assets. Vote BLUE for the love of God! Vote for VAL DEMINGS!

  • Pat

    October 24, 2022 at 9:10 pm

    I find your opinion very bias.
    I believe especially after seeing Charlie Chris crush DeSantis that Chris will be our next Govenor.

  • Jackson

    October 29, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    This is pretty ridiculous. Worded it like she was conspiring with the CCP, when in reality her husband’s diversified portfolio holds a position in Alibaba… one of the most popular and mainstream large cap Chinese stocks in existence. It is not only normal, but expected for any well-diversified portfolio to hold positions in Chinese stock, which typically materializes as “BABA” stock. I’m a republican but Cohn’s comment raised an eyebrow, and I went to look into it. Now I see that he took a cheap shot to distance Lee from the average voter.

Comments are closed.


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