Wherever Vanita Gupta Worked, Her Father's Money Followed

Biden nominee Vanita Gupta / Getty Images
April 16, 2021

Hiring Vanita Gupta has come with an added perk for her employers: hundreds of thousands of dollars from her wealthy chemical executive father.

A Washington Free Beacon review of financial documents found Rajiv Gupta’s Ujala Foundation donated $50,000 to the ACLU the same year his daughter, now President Joe Biden's nominee for the number-three position at the Department of Justice, was promoted to a management position. Over the next decade, hundreds of thousands of dollars in Ujala donations carefully tracked Vanita Gupta's employment record.

Among the foundation’s first major contributions was $50,000 in 2010 to the ACLU, the same year Vanita Gupta was promoted to a leadership position. The Ujala Foundation’s donations totaled $182,500 to the ACLU while Vanita worked there, including installments of $50,000 in 2010, $50,000 in 2011, $40,000 in 2012, and $42,500 in 2013. Its donations ceased once Vanita left in 2014 to join the Obama administration.

The Ujala Foundation followed a similar pattern when Vanita Gupta in 2017 became president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Her father’s charity cut a $250,000 check to the group in both 2017 and 2018, the last year for which its giving is disclosed. As with the ACLU, Ujala had never given to the group before it employed Gupta.

Neither the ACLU nor the Leadership Conference responded to requests for comment on whether donations from the Ujala Foundation were tied to Gupta’s advancement.

According to the Leadership Conference’s 2018 tax filing, on which Vanita Gupta is listed as the group’s principal officer, Ujala’s $250,000 contribution accounted for over 10 percent of the organization's total assets, about $2.3 million.

Due largely to assets inherited by her father, Vanita Gupta would immediately become one of the wealthiest Biden administration officials. Gupta has already faced scrutiny from Senate Republicans over the "ethics minefield" presented by her and her wealthy father’s investments.

Rajiv Gupta created the Ujala Foundation after he orchestrated the sale of his company, chemical industry giant Rohm and Haas, to Dow Chemical for more than $15 billion.

Many of the Ujala Foundation’s largest beneficiaries have ties to the Gupta family. Johns Hopkins University, which employs Vanita Gupta’s sister, is the foundation’s top overall awardee. In the foundation’s most recent financial disclosure, both of the sisters' employers received hundreds of thousands of dollars. The only other group to receive a six-figure contribution was Drexel University, Rajiv Gupta’s alma mater.

The foundation additionally donated $40,000 to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, where Vanita Gupta’s husband works.

The Ujala Foundation’s disclosures reveal that its donations are heavily financed by stock in companies that have caused the nominee headaches during her confirmation hearings. Its 2018 990 form lists millions of dollars in assets from Gupta-helmed companies, including Aptiv PLC, which the Free Beacon reported pays its Mexican workforce as little as $1.30 an hour, even though Vanita Gupta is a key advocate of a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Filings for the Ujala Foundation from 2019 and 2020 have not yet been made public, and the foundation did not respond to emailed requests for more information. Calls to the foundation’s listed phone number went to a full voicemail inbox.

The foundation’s registered address is inside a luxury condominium building, the Estancia, in Bonita Springs, Fla. The community boasts five exclusive golf courses, a private beach club, and a full-service marina. The apartment is valued at $859,023.

Vanita Gupta herself is valued at between $42 and $187 million, which would make her one of the wealthiest members of the Biden administration if confirmed. The Free Beacon reported that Gupta lists up to $55 million in a type of trust used by America’s wealthiest to dodge estate taxes, despite the Biden administration’s consideration of expanding the estate tax.

Her business interests have been a thorn in her side throughout the confirmation process. This week, Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) and four other Senate Republicans wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland and acting SEC chair Allison Herren Lee urging an investigation into Avantor, a separate Gupta-chaired company, over its "apparent longstanding contribution to the opioid epidemic that killed 50,000 of our fellow citizens in 2019."

Gupta’s nomination has progressed through the Senate in the face of opposition from Republicans. Senate Democrats advanced her nomination out of the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and she is expected to get a full confirmation vote in the coming weeks.