In a move that is drawing scrutiny from ethics watchdogs, President Joe Biden has announced the nomination of University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann to serve as the administration’s ambassador to Germany, despite lingering concerns over the institution’s receipt of millions of dollars in private donations from China, as Fox News reports.
Gutmann is highly regarded in academic circles and has served as president of the Ivy League institution since 2004. However, a Fox News notes, between 2013 and 2020, the school accepted donations totaling in the tens of millions of dollars from nebulous Chinese sources, a fact which the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) describes as troubling.
What’s more, according to the ethics watchdog group, the donation amounts rose substantially after the university established the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in 2018. It is also worth noting that Biden himself received more than $900,000 in compensation from the university for a mere nine appearances on the school’s campus between early 2017 and February of 2019, five of which featured Gutmann, as the New York Post noted.
Last year, the NLPC initiated a complaint against the university over an alleged $22 million in unattributed Chinese donations earmarked for the Biden Center and $70 million in total contributions to the university from the country.
Amid the news of Gutmann’s diplomatic nomination, Peter Flaherty, chairman of the NLPC said to Fox News, “The University of Pennsylvania has stonewalled all inquiries into the identities of the Chinese donors who made $22 million in anonymous donations to the university. We think it’s time for [Gutmann] to answer the question and identify the donors.”
The potential national security implications for these types of contributions are of serious concern, according to the NLPC, with the director of the group’s public integrity project, Tom Anderson, asserting that the act of naming the diplomacy center after Biden was itself an act of financial solicitation.
Concerns about links between the university, the Bidens, and China were also raised earlier this year when House Republicans sitting on three influential committees sent a letter to Gutmann requesting details of the connections, as the Washington Examiner reported at the time.
“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,” the communication explained.
“Every operator, spy, foreign agent in the world immediately set their sights and their wallets on the university the day they used Biden’s name,” Anderson opined, adding, “Corruption isn’t always about money – sometimes it’s about access,” something on which the president’s son Hunter, among others, seems to have capitalized greatly for quite some time.