The little reported corruption racket between Joe Biden and Big Academia
With two major universities naming colleges after him staffed by former Obama-Biden administration cronies and receiving generous donations from anonymous foreign sources, Joe Biden's embrace of Big Academia's money machine has been shielded by their respectability. This despite neither the Penn Biden Center for the University of Pennsylvania nor the Biden Institute of the University of Delaware providing any evident academic or research function for either of their host universities. While the former vice president is certainly feeling vulnerable due to the attacks on his one surviving son and his inexplicable financial arrangements, it is only one weak point in a long chain of corrupt dealings surrounding him. Remaining largely ignored is the much blander but just as compromising Biden–Big Academia scandal.
This matter is centered on two colleges named after Biden: the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C. and the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware in Newark. The latter unit is also part of the Biden School for Public Policy at U.D. Many politicians found think-tanks or academic units in order to project their influence on political thought after they leave office or die. An excellent example is the Carter Center in Atlanta, founded in 1982 as a non-profit organization by former president Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn in partnership with Emory University. As of 2018, the Carter Center, which has the stated goal of advancing human rights, had net assets totaling $805 million and nine officers and directors with salaries of over $150,000. Not bad for someone whose one-term presidency was largely known for the Iran hostage crisis and a stagnant economy. Not every politician waits until leaving politics to open a non-profit or think-tank; the McCain Institute was founded in 2012 in honor of Sen. John McCain, who would remain in office for six more years until his death. But generally they wait until their highest ambitions have been accomplished.
It may have been that when both the Biden Institute and the Penn Biden Center (PBC) were created in 2017, the vice president was not planning to seek the presidency. However, as I've written in previous articles for American Greatness, this is belied by the list of people involved in both. They are staffed entirely by alumni from the White House, the National Security Council, and the State and Defense Departments during the Obama era like former deputy sec. of state Antony Blinken. According to his profile for the non-profit Human Rights First, where he served as a vice chair, Blinken was charged with leading the administration's efforts against ISIS. It is easy to forget, given the collapse of the caliphate after he left office, but as his term was winding down, Obama's campaign against the jihadist terror state was being labeled a failure even by liberal publications like The Week and Foreign Policy. It is therefore highly ironic that Blinken ended up becoming a board member for a refugee advocacy organization like Human Rights First, given his ties to the incompetent Obama White House. Blinken served as the PBC's first managing director before giving way to the current one, Michael Carpenter, who was primarily focused on eastern Europe, Russia, and Ukraine.
Blinken's résumé since leaving office includes many of the same elements as the typical ex-Obama policy wonk turned #resister:
- An opinion writer for the New York Times and global affairs "analyst" for CNN.
- Partnership in the private equity firm Pine Island Capital Partners.
- A seat on the advisory board of the non-profit organization super-PAC Foreign Policy for America.
- A sudden openness to reaching across the aisle and co-writing op-eds with neo-conservatives like Robert Kagan, whom a Democrat in 2008 would have regarded as a war-mongering psychopath.
Biden selected Blinken as his top foreign policy adviser in 2019. He is just the most prominent of his bullpen of stooges that staff both institutions. Others include Mike Donilon, a political consultant who also is part of the Biden-Harris 2020 campaign and has been working for Biden in such a capacity since the early 1980s, when he was in the Senate. Donilon is still listed as the managing director of the Biden Institute and an assistant professor at the Biden School of Public Policy, the academic college within which the Institute operates. In addition to Donilon, Valerie Biden Owens, the vice president's younger sister and another longtime electoral campaign officer for him since his runs for the Senate and the presidency in 1988 and 2008, serves as the vice chair of the Biden School and Institute.
The role of the two colleges in advancing the cronies and their patron is bad enough. However, when it comes to who actually funds these undertakings, it becomes apparent that the universities serve as window dressing. In August, three GOP House representatives (Virginia Foxx, Jim Jordan, and James Comer) requested that six higher education institutions turn over their records for foreign donations in 2015, including both Penn and U.D. The nations in question were Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and China. Of the six, only Delaware is considered a state university. In February, the Washington Free Beacon contacted U.D. asking about those donations and was told by senior internal legal counsel that because only 11% of its budget came from public funding, Delaware is not required to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for such information. Thanks to the state's opaque transparency laws that exempt "anonymous charitable donations to the public," it is not likely that such information will be revealed without other legal initiatives being taken. In May, the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog, filed a complaint with the Department of Education in order to force Penn and the PBC to reveal their records.
According to the NLPC's legal counsel, Paul Kamenar, Esq., the Department of Education responded by agreeing that the foreign funds are a "serious problem" but that they are not at the moment investigating Penn. He also shared an expedited FOIA request from October 22 with the department concerning Penn's reporting of donations and grants from Chinese sources. One other pertinent exemption is that only gifts of over $250,000 must be reported.
As Biden looks forward to Election Day and possibly transitioning into the White House in January, these icebergs concerning the funding of his two institutions remain hidden from public view and may not be revealed until years after he leaves office.