The Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against President Joe Biden’s administration for allegedly failing to produce records regarding Chinese and Chinese Communist Party-linked donations to the University of Pennsylvania.
DFI filed three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) from February 2022 to 2023 asking for records regarding foreign donations, gifts and contracts with the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy & Global Engagement, according to the documents. The department, however, has not completed the requests, prompting DFI to file a lawsuit in the hopes of gaining access to the documents, according to the court documents.
“The American people have a right to know why the Biden administration ended all open investigations into universities that may not have accurately reported their foreign financial ties,” DFI President and Co-Founder Bob Eitel told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The University of Pennsylvania received a 400% increase in foreign donations after establishing the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in 2017. Given that the Biden Center was associated with several persons now working in very senior levels of the administration and that one of them is the President of the United States, the public is also entitled to know what role Penn or the Biden Center played in any of these decisions.”
The Penn Biden Center opened in 2018 in Washington, D.C., in honor of then-former Vice President Joe Biden, accordingto the center’s website. The center’s purpose is to help students and faculty “develop and advance smart policy, and strengthen the national debate for continued American global leadership in the 21st century.”
DFI’s lawsuit accuses the DOE of violating Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, which requires schools to disclose gifts, funds, donations and the like from foreign groups. The organization’s first FOIA produced no records, the second FOIA was “ignored” by the DOE and the department said that “due to the unusual circumstances” around the organization’s third request it would take longer than the standard 20 days to respond and has yet to reply, according to the lawsuit.
The university’s ties to special interest groups, many with ties to China and even the CCP, have been well-documented. University records obtained by Americans for Public Trust in May found that UPenn received over $105 million in gifts and donations between 2018 and 2020, according to Fox News.
The China Entrepreneur Club and China Molybdenum donated $7 million during that time frame and both groups have a history with Biden’s son Hunter Biden, according to Fox News. Stephen MacCarthy, UPenn vice president for university communications, told Fox that none of the donations were given to UPenn’s Biden Center.
DFI argued in the lawsuit that the administration has abandoned its own rules for transparency by refusing to answer the FOIA requests.
“Such disclosures are intended to promote public transparency about the role of foreign funding and influence in American higher education,” the lawsuit reads. “Since 2021, the Department has refused to enforce Section 117 disclosure and transparency requirements against colleges and universities. The Department’s refusal to provide a full, comprehensive production of records — indeed, any records — pursuant to DFI’s FOIA requests underscores the apparent abandonment of Section 117 enforcement by the Department.”
DOE, the White House and UPenn did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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