Administration

Biden inaugural committee to refund former senator’s donation due to foreign agent status

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President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural committee is refunding a $500 donation from former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) over her registration as a foreign agent with a firm alleged to have aided the Chinese government’s surveillance of the Uighur ethnic minority.

A spokesperson for the committee told Axios it did not seek the donation from Boxer, and that it would refund it after the revelation of her registration as a foreign agent, which was first reported by the Daily Caller.

“When I am asked to provide strategic advice to help a company operate in a more responsible and humane manner consistent with U.S. law in spirit and letter, it is an opportunity to make things better while helping protect and create American jobs,” Boxer told Axios.

Mercury Public Affairs, where Boxer serves as Los Angeles co-chair, filed documents last week registering as a foreign agent for its work with Chinese surveillance company Hikvision. The federal government has banned American companies from doing unlicensed business with the company due to reports it has contributed to monitoring of the predominantly Muslim ethnic group. Last year, the Trump administration outright barred U.S. investment in Hikvision.

Boxer is one of two former senators assigned to the firm’s Hikvision account, the other being former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), according to Axios.

Biden, who was Boxer’s Senate colleague for more than 20 years, has strongly condemned the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighurs, with his presidential campaign calling it “genocide” last year. Beijing has denied human rights violations in the province of Xinjiang, but a 2020 Associated Press investigation found reports of forced sterilization and abortions performed on members of the ethnic group.

The inaugural committee spokesperson told the publication the committee has a policy against accepting donations from registered foreign agents.

A spokesperson for Hikvision declined to comment to The Hill.

–Updated at 3:16 p.m.

Tags Barbara Boxer David Vitter Joe Biden

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