Biden’s Asia Czar Failed To Disclose Speech Payments From Pro-China Investment Firm

Kurt Campbell revised financial disclosure on eve of wife's Senate confirmation hearing

Kurt Campbell
Kurt Campbell / Getty Images
January 17, 2022

President Joe Biden's Asia czar failed to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from a private equity firm with close ties to China, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Kurt Campbell, the head of Indo-Pacific affairs at the National Security Council, disclosed to the Office of Government Ethics in a filing released Thursday that he received $50,000 for two speeches to Blackstone in late 2020. Campbell's initial January 2021 disclosures did not list the speeches, nor one that he gave to the Prospect Foundation, a Taiwanese think tank.

Campbell submitted his revised financial disclosure on Dec. 23, a day after his wife, Lael Brainard, submitted her own disclosure after being nominated to serve as vice chair of the Federal Reserve. Brainard's confirmation hearing was held last Thursday before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Brainard has come under scrutiny for refusing to say whether she is socialist or capitalist and for her remarks about the Chinese Communist Party.

Campbell's latest filing raises questions about why he failed to initially disclose the Blackstone speeches, which would have likely drawn scrutiny from progressives and conservatives alike. One of the biggest private equity firms in the country, Blackstone has pushed aggressively for closer economic ties between the United States and China. The company's CEO Stephen Schwarzman has been called a "China whisperer" and is said to maintain "one of the closest relationships to Beijing of any American executive." China Investment Corporation, the Chinese sovereign wealth fund, held a 12.5 percent stake in Blackstone until 2018.

Campbell faced criticism from watchdog groups who said his consulting firm, the Asia Group, operated as a "shadow lobbying firm." Critics say his work at the Asia Group presented conflicts of interest for his position at the National Security Council because of the company's work for major American companies doing business in Asia. The White House said in February that Campbell would recuse himself from matters involving his Asia Group clients and would list them on his filings with the Office of Government Ethics.

The National Security Council declined to provide an on-the-record statement about the discrepancy in Campbell's initial filing. Blackstone did not respond to questions about Campbell's speeches.

The new filing shows Campbell received $1,619,707 from Asia Group last year. He also received a $25,000 honorarium from the Prospect Foundation, a Taiwanese think tank that supports independence from mainland China. Campbell spoke by video at the Taiwan-U.S.-Japan Trilateral Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue, where he said the United States should remain committed to protecting democracy in Taiwan.

Campbell has offered mixed comments on United States policy toward China during his White House stint. In June, he said the Biden administration would continue the longstanding U.S. policy against recognizing Taiwan's independence from China. But in September, he angered Chinese officials by expressing support for changing the name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington to the Taiwan Representative Office.

Prior to joining the administration Campbell served on the board of the U.S.-China Strong Foundation, a nonprofit group alleged to be "heavily influenced by the CCP." The Free Beacon reported the foundation was bankrolled by Florence Fang, a philanthropist linked to the National Association for China's Peaceful Unification, a group that supports Chinese control of Taiwan. The State Department has said that the National Association for China's Peaceful Unification is part of the United Front Work Department, which conducts the Chinese Communist Party's overseas influence efforts.