EXCLUSIVE: The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is raising questions about the funding source for the Penn Biden Center, and specifically whether foreign money might have found its way to President Joe Biden’s former think tank.
The Penn Biden Center is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, and on Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., wrote to the university to ask several questions about how money flows between the two entities. Smith also said press reports are leading to questions about whether foreign money from the school may have been directed to the Penn Biden Center, even though the center insists it “does not accept any contributions or gifts.”
“Public reports have … raised questions about foreign direct investment in the University of Pennsylvania and the relationship between those investments and the creation of the Penn Biden Center,” Smith wrote in a letter co-signed by Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C.
“The timing of the Center’s creation along with the reported increase in foreign investment appears to coincide with members of President Biden’s family seeking business opportunities in China,” the letter added.
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The letter asked specifically how the university and the center are related legally and what percentage of the center’s annual expenses came from the university. It then asked for information about investments the university has in three “adversarial entities” that are on U.S. government restricted lists.
Last year, the university told Republicans that it has three investments in entities on those lists, and Smith’s letter asked the university to identify those entities. It also asked the university whether it has any investments in the six Chinese entities that were added to these restricted lists after the U.S. shot down a Chinese spy balloon that flew across the country this year.
The GOP letter is a continuation of a probe into Biden’s arrangement with the Penn Biden Center. Biden was paid about $900,000 in the roughly two years he was there before his 2020 presidential run, and the letter appears to be seeking data that might help Republicans determine whether China or other foreign nations were signing Biden’s checks.
A Ways and Means Committee statement released Wednesday said the letter makes the point that Biden “appears to have been paid by university funds during his tenure at the Penn Biden Center during a period in which new questions have arisen about a range of issues, including foreign investment at the university … and the Biden family’s attempted business dealings in China.”
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The Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., came under public scrutiny earlier this year when it was revealed that classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president were discovered in a locked closet there.
Biden had used the center for a private office for some years until he launched his 2020 presidential campaign. The files were found in November but not made public knowledge until early January.
The GOP letter also questioned why the university has made no apparent effort to divest from its questionable holdings.
“In addition, the University’s June 23, 2022, response did not indicate any plans to divest, nor did it identify the entities that held such investments,” the letter stated.
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Republicans are demanding that university officials respond to the letter by March 28, outlining any efforts to divest from concerning investments and providing more information on the legal relationship between the D.C. think tank and the Ivy League school.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the Penn Biden Center and the White House for comment but did not immediately hear back from either.