Comer Questions If Chinese Donors Backed Salaries Paid to Officials With Biden Administration-in-Waiting

Comer Questions If Chinese Donors Backed Salaries Paid to Officials With Biden Administration-in-Waiting
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) during a hearing in Washington on July 27, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott
Madalina Vasiliu

Millions of dollars donated by anonymous Chinese sources to the Penn Biden Center in Washington may have covered paychecks for multiple officials working at the think tank as part of a Biden administration-in-waiting, according to House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.).

“The Penn Biden Center appears to have acted as a foreign-sponsored source of income for much of a Biden administration in-waiting,” Comer said in a Jan. 18 letter to Mary Elizabeth Gill, the University of Pennsylvania’s president. “Between 2017 and 2019, UPenn paid President Biden more than $900,000, and the university employed at least 10 people at the Penn Biden Center who later became senior Biden administration officials.”

The letter was made public by the committee.

The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement was established in 2017 and opened in 2018 by Biden and the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania.

101 Constitution Avenue sign in Washington on Jan. 13, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
101 Constitution Avenue sign in Washington on Jan. 13, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

It isn’t unusual for former presidents and vice presidents, as well as other high-ranking federal officials, to associate themselves with think tanks as a means of maintaining a public profile.

The Brookings Institution, for example, has often hired officials from Democratic presidential administrations, while individuals from Republican administrations have frequently worked for The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

As The Epoch Times has previously reported, as much as $72 million has been donated to the university by Chinese firms and individuals since 2018, compared to $21 million prior to the Biden-linked think tank’s establishment.

Biden Appointees

Among the Biden appointees-to-be were “Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl. Financial disclosures filed with the Office of Government Ethics reveal UPenn paid these Biden associates between $79,000 and $208,000,” Comer said.

After Biden defeated former President Donald Trump’s reelection bid in the 2020 campaign, University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and David Cohen, chairman of the school’s board of directors, were appointed as U.S. ambassadors to Germany and Canada, respectively, Comer pointed out.

Dr. Michael Carpenter, former managing director of the Penn Biden Center, was appointed as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Comer pointed out in his statement that during the Obama–Biden administration, Carpenter was responsible at the Department of Defense (DOD) for issues linked to Russia and Ukraine.

Hunter Biden, the president’s son, is the subject of growing controversy as a result of his extensive and profitable financial links to people and firms in Russia and Ukraine.

“The [Oversight and Accountability] Committee is concerned top UPenn officials offered lucrative, foreign-funded salaries to President Biden’s closest political allies to secure senior posts in a future Biden administration, and foreign actors funded those salaries to influence a future government,” Comer said.

Comer told Gill that “UPenn publicized the formation of the Penn Biden Center on Feb. 1, 2017. After that announcement, UPenn’s donations originating from China more than tripled.

“Not only were these donations made while President Biden explored a potential run for president and launched his campaign, but also as his family and associates pursued lucrative financial projects with partners in China.

The U.S. Capitol on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 6, 2022. (Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images)
The U.S. Capitol on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 6, 2022. (Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images)

Congressional Action

“The American people deserve to know whether the Chinese Communist Party, through Chinese companies, influenced potential Biden administration policies with large, anonymous donations to UPenn and the Penn Biden Center.”

Comer told Gill the committee wants a lengthy list of documents that includes the names, job descriptions, and dates of employment—as well as compilations of all donations, including the dates and amounts, the school has received from Jan. 20, 2017, to the present.

The Oversight Committee also wants “all documents and communications related to donations originating from China to UPenn and/or the Penn Biden Center from Jan. 20, 2017, to present,” and “all documents and communications related to soliciting donations for the Penn Biden Center.”

In addition, the committee told Gill to provide it with “a list of all individuals with keycard access to the Penn Biden Center—including but not limited to members of President Biden’s family,” and “a visitor log of all individuals who met with President Biden at the Penn Biden Center.”

Penn Biden Center officials didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment. However, the center has previously denied that it has solicited or received funds from China, saying, “One hundred percent of the budget for the Penn Biden Center comes from university funds.”

“The Penn Biden Center has never solicited or received any gifts from any Chinese or other foreign entity. In fact, the University has never solicited any gifts for the Center. Since its inception in 2017 there have been three unsolicited gifts (from two donors) which combined total $1,100. Both donors are Americans,” a spokesperson for the center previously told The Epoch Times in an email.

“Penn is fully compliant with federal law regarding the reporting of foreign gifts and contracts, as foreign gifts are all properly reported to the U.S. Department of Education as required by Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.”

Mark Tapscott is an award-winning senior Congressional correspondent for The Epoch Times. He covers Congress, national politics, and policy. Mr. Tapscott previously worked for Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Montgomery Journal, and Daily Caller News Foundation.
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