GOP lawmaker wants probe of UPenn's Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement

GOP lawmaker wants probe of UPenn's Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement
© Greg Nash

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzHouse panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops House panel votes to limit Trump's Germany withdrawal Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November MORE (R-Fla.) is calling on the Education Department to launch an investigation into the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, citing concerns about accusations of undisclosed donations from Chinese sources.

The top Trump ally wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosDebt relief is now harder for students of for-profit colleges House fails to override Trump veto of bill blocking DeVos student loan rule DeVos issues new rule ordering more coronavirus relief to private schools MORE on Monday that he has “extreme concern” about potential foreign influence over American colleges and universities and the impact it could have on elections.

“The widespread threat of foreign influence in American universities is well-known to Congress,” he wrote. “These threats are deeply worrisome on their own — and even more so when they risk impacting the integrity of America’s elections.”

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In his call for the probe, Gaetz cited a complaint filed with the Education Department by The National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative group, alleging that the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, named after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign raised M more than Trump in the month of June RNC, Trump campaign raised 1M in June Michigan shuts down most indoor bar service in bid to prevent virus resurgence MORE, failed to disclose millions in foreign donations, including some from anonymous donors.

The University of Pennsylvania has denied any wrongdoing, telling The Daily Pennsylvanian the accusations are “completely untrue.”

Gaetz said the Higher Education Act requires institutions to disclose gifts and donations from foreign sources valued at $250,0000 or more.

“It is unclear whether the Department of Education has the name of the donor matching the number, but whether it does or not, the law requires the disclosure of donors’ names,” he said.

The Education Department launched investigations into two other Ivy League schools earlier this year — Harvard and Yale — following similar accusations that they failed to report billions of dollars in foreign funding.

Gaetz said while there has been a spotlight on preventing foreign interference in elections, he believes it’s possible adversaries could be using the donations to U.S. institutions to influence American politics.

“The possibility that China may be using ‘anonymous donations’ in order to impact presidential politics should alarm all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. I sincerely hope this is not the case,” he wrote.