Biden Institute Donor List to Remain Secret (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 18 January 2021 10:45 PM
The Biden Institute, a policy research center founded by President-elect Joe Biden in 2017, reportedly will not disclose its donors after the inauguration.
That news, reported by Politico on Monday, seemingly could create headaches for the new administration.
That is because, while other foundations and groups carrying the president-elect's name have been shut down after Biden declared his presidential candidacy in 2019, the Biden Institute continues to exist and fundraise. In fact, the research center at the University of Delaware is in the middle of a $20 million fundraising campaign.
A perception that donors might be seeking favors certainly seems possible.
Some ethics experts said Biden and his family should have severed ties with every Biden-named organization to avoid drawing allegations of wrongdoing.
"They should at the very least disclose their donors, and I think the Biden family should at the very least take their name off if they're going to continue to raise money," Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush's White House, told Politico.
"I just don't think it's worth it."
A Biden transition official emailed Politico to say the new administration would be taking steps to prevent any real or perceived "ethically compromising positions."
"The administration will adhere to high ethical standards and ensure any affiliations with outside groups will not result in special access or treatment," the official said.
Not only did a University of Delaware spokesperson say the Biden Institute was not compelled to make its list of donors public in a 2019 interview, the Penn Biden Center, a foreign policy center opened by Biden at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018, also said it would keep its donor list secret.
The Washington Free Beacon reported foreign donations to the University of Pennsylvania tripled between 2016-20, going from $31 million to more than $100 million, with China the biggest donor.
The Biden family has been dogged by allegations of impropriety and charges that Biden's son Hunter swapped access to his then-veep father to land multi-million deals in China and Ukraine, per the New York Post.
The Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, founded by Joe Biden following his eldest son's death in 2015, will begin making public its donors Wednesday.
Biden, who will be sworn in Wednesday, started the institute in 2017 after exiting the vice president's office.