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Smith, Murphy Demand Answers from UPenn About Endowment Investments in Flagged Foreign Entities and Its Funding of Penn-Biden Center

March 15, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Biden’s former office at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement is receiving greater scrutiny given recent reports of classified materials found there and China’s ongoing hostile behavior toward the United States. In a new letter to University of Pennsylvania President Mary Elizabeth Magill, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) and fellow committee member Congressman Greg Murphy (NC-04) remind the University of the Committee’s jurisdiction over the taxation of endowments and raise concerns about revelations that the Penn endowment, which also appears to fund the Penn Biden Center, has known investments in adversarial entities.

In June 2022 Congressman Murphy sent a letter to 15 universities – including the University of Pennsylvania – requesting information about university endowment investments in entities the U.S. government (USG) has designated as potentially hostile to America’s national interests. Smith and Murphy note in today’s inquiry that the University of Pennsylvania has admitted to investing in such entities – the list of which has grown in recent days given China’s surveillance efforts over U.S. soil:

“The University of Pennsylvania’s June 23, 2022, response to Representative Murphy’s letter noted that the University’s endowment does in fact hold investments in three entities on the USG Lists…[O]n February 10, 2023, the Commerce Department added five Chinese companies and one research institute to the ‘Entity List.’”

In their letter, Smith and Murphy highlight that President Biden appears to have been paid by university funds during his tenure at the Penn Biden Center during a period in which new questions have arisen about a range of issues, including foreign investment at the university, possible connections with the creation of the Center, and the Biden family’s attempted business dealings in China:

“Public reports have also raised questions about foreign direct investment in the University of Pennsylvania and the relationship between those investments and the creation of the Penn Biden Center. The timing of the Center’s creation along with the reported increase in foreign investment appears to coincide with members of President Biden’s family seeking business opportunities in China.”

Smith and Murphy request that the University of Pennsylvania provide information related to the university’s investments in U.S.-designated adversarial entities as well as its funding and relationship to the Penn Biden Center – a think tank that was not only named after President Biden but also paid him as a salaried employee.

Read the letter here.


  • The University of Pennsylvania has previously admitted to investing its endowment in entities on the U.S.-government’s designated lists of foreign adversarial entities.
  • The University of Pennsylvania is home to the Penn Biden Center where President Biden was previously employed and where classified materials were recently found in his former office.
  • The Penn Biden Center’s creation and its potential funding by foreign entities through the University of Pennsylvania’s endowments appear to coincide with Biden family business dealings with China.
  • June 2022, Congressman Murphy sent a letter to fifteen private colleges and universitieswith the largest endowments, including the University of Pennsylvania, calling on them to purge their investment portfolios of listed entities, including Chinese entities, deemed a threat to U.S. national security.