Lawmakers Demand Universities Produce All Foreign Donation Records

Republican lawmakers have demanded that the nation's top universities produce all records of donations received from foreign governments, after concerns have mounted over a growing national security threat tied to multi-million dollar gifts, according to the New York Post.

(Graphic: Clarion Project)

In a Monday letter to the presidents of six leading colleges -- including Yale, Harvard and NYU, Reps. Jim Jordan (D-OH), Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and James Comer (R-KY) requested unredacted records of all gifts, contracts and agreements with foreign governments since January 2015.

The three lawmakers are the ranking members of the House Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and House Education and Labor committees, respectively.

Lawmakers said they were troubled by the fact that governments like Qatar classified their donations to US colleges as “trade secrets” — banning the recipient from disclosing the nature or sum of the gift, as required by US law.

They said they were also briefed in May by Education Department officials who held “concerns about this level of [colleges’] dependency on foreign funding from adversarial states and the inherent national security risks,” the letters said.

", according to DOE records, raising concerns about foreign influence and spying in the US higher education system. -New York Post

According to the report, Harvard has declared 31 gifts or contracts totaling $101 million from China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar since 2015.

NYU has received $40 million from the same countries over the same period, while the University of Pennsylvania pulled in $62 million from the group. The Universities of Chicago, Delaware and Yale each pocketed less than $30 million.

As the Post notes, the head of Harvard's chemistry department was charged with lying to the DoD in January about his receipt of $1.5 million in connection with his work at the Wuhan University of Technology in China. He faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

According to Reps. Jordan, Foxx and Comer, their largest concern is evidence that the donations were being used by foreign governments to "leverage their money into some type of benefit, or quid pro quo."

One example presented by DOE investigators to Congress in May was two universities with ties to the Chinese Communist Party-aligned Jilin University publicly defending the Communist regime after reports emerged that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from a lab in Wuhan.

According to Monday’s letters, the institutions “claimed those reports were false.”

American universities under investigation by the Education Department have repeatedly tried to conceal their ties to China, refusing to hand over documents detailing cash and other gifts from the Communist nation, or aggressively labeling them “confidential,” one attorney for the department told lawmakers in May. -New York Post

Overall, an analysis by the Clarion Project found that some $10 billion had flowed from foreign entities into US universities between 2012 and 2019.