Antony Blinken looks back on a long history with Joe Biden before he knocks the elected president’s candidate for secretary of state – as an assistant to the Biden Senate, an adviser to the then vice president and deputy secretary of state under the Obama administration.
But a non-federal role, which is also closely tied to Biden, may raise the question of how America’s next chief diplomat will deal with China in Senate confirmation hearings.
Blinken was the executive director of the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania (aka the Penn Biden Center), which was established in 2017. He left this position in 2019 to join the Biden campaign.
In May, the National Legal and Political Center (NLPC), a government oversight team, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education asking the university and the Penn Biden Center to disclose the names of anonymous Chinese donors who have since donated $ 22 million in 2017. , including a $ 14.5 million gift in May 2018.
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“This center was an incubation for Biden’s foreign policy team and a natural place to elect the Secretary of State,” Tom Anderson, director of the National Legal and Political Center’s Public Integrity Project, told Fox News. “Every person at this center is likely to have some role in the Biden administration.”
Anderson said Blinken should disclose the names of all Chinese donors if the University of Pennsylvania does not precede its Senate ratification.
While Anderson said there was “nothing illegal” in these donations, “Chinese contributors knew Joe Biden could run for president, and if Biden wins, they will contact future administrative officials.”
Anderson added: “Corruption is not always about money. Sometimes it’s about access.
Andrew Bates, Biden’s interim spokesman, referred to Fox News in an email last year at the university’s response last May, in which he denied accepting non-public donations.
Stephen MacCarthy, the university’s vice president of communications, said in a written statement to the Daily Pennsylvanian that the complaint was “untrue”.
“We never asked for gifts for the Penn Biden Center,” MacCarthy told the student newspaper in May. “Since its inception in 2017, it has received three unsolicited gifts from two donors, which together [to a total of] 1100 USD. None of the donors [was] From China. “
The Penn Biden Center did not respond immediately to Fox News to comment on this story.
Section 117 of the Higher Education Act requires universities and colleges to report a contract or gift of at least $ 250,000 from a foreign source to the federal government.
As for the university’s claim that they are not seeking funding from the Penn Biden Center, Anderson says that’s not an issue.
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“Probably the biggest foreign fundraiser in the history of the University of Pennsylvania was when Biden’s name was fluttered on their think tanks,” Anderson said. “Every operator, spy, foreign agent in the world immediately targeted the university when Biden’s name was used. So it’s simply a spin for the crowd. But anyone with experience knows how this works and what’s going on here. Therefore, they will never be transparent and will not open their books. “
The NLPC’s complaint to the Ministry of Education shows that from October 2013 to June 2019, Chinese donors contributed about $ 67 million to the university.
Which, based on university records and the NLPC’s complaint, is not entirely clear about how much of the Chinese money poured into the university went to the Penn Biden Center. It is only clear that the amount of Chinese donations has increased significantly since the establishment of the Penn Biden Center.
Gifts were lower before 2017, when the Penn Biden Center was established, and the contribution of Chinese funds to the university accelerated when the Penn Biden Center opened a seat in Washington DC in February 2018.
The complaint notes that in 2017, of the total $ 7.7 million Chinese donation, $ 500,000 came from anonymous donors. In 2018, total donations were $ 27.1 million, with anonymous donors giving $ 15.8 million of that. And in 2019, Chinese donors contributed $ 26.9 million to the Penn Biden Center, of which $ 6 million was anonymous.
In contrast, in 2013, the complaint shows that the university received $ 4.3 million from Chinese donors, according to a complaint from the NLPC’s Ministry of Education. In 2014, the number fell slightly to $ 3.8 million, in 2015 it was $ 4.9 million, and in 2016 it jumped to $ 6.8 million.
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The complaint presents only three anonymous gifts to the university from China in 2013 and two in 2016. However, after the opening of the Penn Biden Center, from 2017 to mid-2019, 23 anonymous donations were received from China.
From 2014 to 2016, Blinken served as Deputy Secretary of State for the Obama Administration. From 2009 to 2013, Biden was Vice President of National Security at the time. When Biden was the Chief Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee between 2002 and 2008, Blinken was the committee’s director of personnel. From 1994 to 2001, he was also a member of the Clinton government’s National Security Council.
High-quality issues still need to be explored around the president-elect’s son, Hunter Biden, as the NLPC filed a complaint with the Department of Justice inquiring about the Foreign Agents Registration Act. But Anderson believes this is a bigger problem for the Penn Biden Center.
“Whatever Hunter Biden had with his own personal problems,” Anderson said. “Blinken’s actions affect millions.”