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House Republicans seek Penn records for foreign financial ties to Biden Center

Three leading House Republicans this week sent a letter to University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann requesting “financial and communications records” in order to “better understand the scope of potential foreign influence at the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center.”

In May 2020, the Washington, D.C.-based National Legal and Policy Center filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education accusing Penn of circumventing federal laws requiring schools to report foreign donations above $250,000.

The complaint noted that since the school opened the Washington, D.C.-based Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in 2017, Penn has received over $22 million from anonymous China-based sources.

“For some time, we have been concerned about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to use its strategic investments to turn American college campuses into indoctrination platforms for American students,” wrote House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.).

The Republicans’ letter notes that in the 37 months of available reporting prior to the announcement of the Biden Center, the university received approximately $21 million from China, while in a similar period of time since the announcement, the school has received over $72 million from Chinese sources — more than triple the previous amount.

The lawmakers appear to suggest there is a connection in the timing, but a spokesman for the Ivy League institution said that while the school may have gotten money from China, it wasn’t for the Biden Center.

“The Penn Biden Center has never solicited or received any gifts from any Chinese or other foreign entity,” Penn Vice President of University Communications Stephen MacCarthy told The College Fix via email.

“In fact, the University has never solicited any gifts for the Center,” MacCarthy said. “Since its inception in 2017 there have been three unsolicited gifts (from two donors) which combined total $1,100. Both donors are Americans,” he added.

But the congressional Republicans are not convinced.

“Understanding whether the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement received funds from China or other adversarial nations at the behest of the Biden family or future Biden Administration officials will shed light on the depth and breadth of the potential improper influence these nations enjoy over the Biden family,” wrote the lawmakers.

The lawmakers note that they previously had sent a letter to Gutmann in August 2020 asking about “unreported and anonymous foreign donations to the University of Pennsylvania from foreign adversaries such as Russia, China, Qatar, and Iran.” They received no response.

Biden’s choice for U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, served as the managing director of the Biden Center until 2019. In their letter, the Republican lawmakers request all communications made since 2013 by Blinken, Biden, and Gutmann, as well as Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and Biden Center Managing Director Michael Carpenter.

MacCarthy declined to say whether Penn would be responding to the lawmakers’ letter.

MORE: Complaint filed against Penn, Biden Center for undisclosed China contributions

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About the Author
Senior Reporter
Christian focuses on investigative, enterprise and analysis reporting. He is the author of "1916: The Blog" and has spent time as a political columnist at USA Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and National Review Online. His op-eds have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, City Journal, Weekly Standard and National Review. He has also been a frequent guest on political television and radio shows. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Marquette University and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.