Obama donor firm conducted auction in which Chinese company bought US battery maker

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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The Chicago law firm that auctioned the assets of failing battery maker A123 Systems Sunday to the Chinese company Wanxiang Group is a major Obama campaign donor, records reveal.

A123 received $249 million in funds from President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, and spent at least $132 million of those funds to build two factories in the Greater Detroit area. The company’s bankruptcy and sale to Wanxiang Group means that the Chinese company now owns all of the properties A123 purchased with its stimulus money.

Latham and Watkins, which conducted A123’s bankruptcy auction in which Wanxiang Group beat out Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls and another company, contributed $208,244 to Barack Obama in the 2012 election cycle.

Wanxiang Group’s U.S. headquarters are based in Chicago. The company claims that the A123 acquisition will “accelerate its growth” in the alternative-fuel industry, according to the New York Times.

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and John Thune expressed concern about the acquisition Monday.

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