Real Clear Politics

$68m China>UPenn, $911k UPenn>Biden

RealClearPolitics and Newsweek coverage of TBOR’s efforts to disclose potential pay-for-play politics follow the iconic “Follow the Money” line uttered by Hal Holbrook (playing Deep Throat) to Robert Redford (playing reporter Carl Bernstein) in the Watergate movie (All The President’s Men). We now know the money in this story included:

  • $68 million from China to UPenn (President Amy Gutmann, Trustee Chair David Cohen)
  • $4 million salary to Gutmann, and 
  • $911,000 Professor Salary to Joe Biden, who never taught a UPenn class
  • Biden nominates Gutmann Ambassador to China’s other chief economic rival, Germany

UPenn would not comment when the Philadelphia Inquirer discovered the massive funding by China, which already poured money into influencing US Education through Confucius Institutes placed throughout US Campuses, as documented by the National Association of Scholars.

The following are the stories on Take Back Our Republic in RealClearPolitics and Newsweek, and finally, the actual letter sent by TBOR to the Office of the Attorney General in Pennsylvania.

Today’s story by RealClearPolitics covers the official letter from Take Back Our Republic President Francis Johnson and Executive Director John Pudner requesting the Pennsylvania Attorney General do just what Bernstein was asked to do in Watergate, follow the money, and then determine if non-profit or campaign finance laws were broken. (letter appears in its entirety below, with officials’ email addresses removed). Click here for the entire RealClearPolitics story, which includes:

“I don’t mind as much payments to a president who is termed out. [Bill] Clinton wasn’t going to run again. President Obama – same way,” John Pudner, executive director of Take Back Our Republic, a conservative nonprofit, said in an interview. “But a lot of people expected that Joe Biden was going to run for president again, and that’s what changes it for me…”

Pudner, along with Take Back Our Republic President and Board Chairman Francis Johnson, is calling on Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to open an investigation into whether Penn is violating its charitable tax status by paying excessive executive compensation to Gutmann and other top university officials.

“Executive compensation in nonprofits is a matter subject to investigation and potential litigation by the state attorney general,” the pair wrote Shapiro. “Unlike a for-profit corporation, there are no shareholders to act as a check on self-dealing. That is the job of the attorney general.”

The entire Newsweek story can be read by clicking here, including the following:

It was recently discovered that Amy Gutmann raised millions in secret money from China and Saudi Arabia for Penn. It’s not even clear yet how much more undisclosed money was donated by both countries to the university. Such foreign donations, most of them secret, are a huge national security risk for America, as we found out after 9/11 when Harvard University was exposed for taking money from the bin Laden family during the Clinton administration.

How can we have a U.S. ambassador to Germany who raised secret money from Saudi Arabia and China while paying candidate Joe Biden over $900,000 as a university professor who never taught classes?

What would be the response on Capitol Hill if Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama or George W. Bush nominated Amy Gutmann under similar circumstances? The credibility of our foreign policy, and our national security in the face of growing foreign influence of American universities, now rest with the United States Senate. The right answer to the nominations of Gutmann—and Cohen for that matter—is no.

165 E. Magnolia Ave, Suite 203, Auburn, Alabama 36830 | Phone: 334-329-7258 | Website: www.takeback.org

July 9, 2021

Josh Shapiro

Attorney General

16th Floor, Strawberry Square

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Michael J. Fischer

Chief Deputy Attorney General 

Office of Attorney General

1600 Arch Street, Suite 300 

Philadelphia, PA 19103

J. Bart. DeLone

Chief Deputy Attorney General 

Office of Attorney General 

Appellate Litigation Section 15th Floor, 

Strawberry Square 

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Keli M. Neary

Executive Deputy Attorney General

Office of Attorney General

Civil Law Division

15th Floor, Strawberry Square

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Attorney General Shapiro and Deputies:

As you are aware, nonprofits that are organized in Pennsylvania and/or do business and raise money in Pennsylvania are subject to the jurisdiction of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. This includes the University of Pennsylvania.

We ask that you immediately open an investigation into the following matters, all concerning the charitable fundraising and use of funds by the University of Pennsylvania.

1). The excessive compensation — almost $4 million — for the President of the University of Pennsylvania Amy Gutmann.  Excessive executive compensation in nonprofits is a matter subject to investigation and potentially litigation by the state attorney general.  Unlike a for-profit corporation, there are no shareholders to act as a check on self-dealing.  That is the job of the state Attorney General.  Gutmann’s salary is far in excess of that of other university presidents, 

about twenty times the compensation of the Governor of Pennsylvania.  There’s such a thing as too much and this is way too much.

2). The University of Pennsylvania raised hundreds of millions of dollars in secret donations from China and Saudi Arabia as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  While raising money from abroad is not per se illegal for an American nonprofit, there are serious legal concerns when the money is secret and foreign governments may be involved.  Who gave this money, where did it go, and what strings were attached?  These are all matters properly within the scope of an investigation by your office.  Any violations of federal law, including the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 should be reported to the Department of Justice.  Still, in the first instance it is the responsibility of your office to assure that foreign money flowing into Pennsylvania nonprofits is legal, and to the extent possible, fully disclosed.

3). $911,000 in compensation was paid by the University of Pennsylvania in 2017-19 to former Vice President and presidential candidate, now President, Joseph Biden. Biden was appointed a “professor” although he never taught a class.  If Biden did not perform services for the University worth $911,000 this is a serious misapplication of nonprofit funds in violation of Pennsylvania law.  If there was any quid pro quo arrangement — for example a promise to Penn President Amy Gutmann of an appointment similar to the ambassadorship for which she has now been nominated — that also would be a violation of Pennsylvania nonprofit law.  Furthermore, if Penn was used as a conduit for passing money from foreign donors to a presidential candidate, that also would be a matter of great concern.  There are of course federal campaign finance law issues as well, and the findings of your investigation should be shared with the Federal Election Commission and other federal authorities depending upon what you find.

We note that the Attorney General of New York aggressively investigated the National Rifle Association for misuse of nonprofit funds, and we ask you to consider if there may be parallels between the use of funds by the University of Pennsylvania and those questioned by the New York Attorney General in the publicly posted statement requesting that non-profit be dissolved due to, “…illegal conduct because of their diversion of millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership … and appearing to dole out lucrative no-show contracts.” 

We expect that all nonprofits — regardless of political ideology or political affiliation of their leaders — will be held to account by the attorney general of the states where they are organized, where they do business and where they raise funds. The forgoing issues with respect to the University of Pennsylvania are more than sufficient to require your office to open an investigation. 

Very truly yours,

Francis Johnson, Board Chair and President   John Pudner, Executive Director 

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Take Back Our Republic strive to be the leading organization in promoting a culture in politics where character and ideas are the basis of being elected and every election is financed with transparency, primarily by the people to be represented and not by outside interests. Headquartered in Auburn, AL since 2015, TBOR has strong financial backing, an engaged board, more than 100 volunteer coordinators in 47 states, and a staff who stands by our mission.

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