The Biden Institute, a policy research center founded by Joe Biden at the University of Delaware, has no plans to disclose its donors after the president-elect takes office, Politico reported on Monday.
Legal experts and watchdog groups said the lack of transparency could create an ethical dilemma for Biden, particularly if he keeps his name on the institute and it continues to fundraise while he’s in the White House.
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"They should at the very least disclose their donors, and I think the Biden family should at the very least take their name off if they’re going to continue to raise money," former George W. Bush administration chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter told Politico.
The Biden Institute, which had many of Biden’s incoming administration staffers on its payroll, is part of a network of foundations and policy centers that he established after his vice presidency.
The institute is currently in the middle of a large fundraising push to raise $20 million that is expected to continue well into Biden’s presidency.
A University of Delaware spokesperson told Politico that the university already publishes a list of contributors who give $100,000 or more to the school, but gave no indication that the institute plans to release the names of specific donors to the Biden Institute, or those who give less than six-figures.
Last year, a spokesperson for the university told the Washington Free Beacon that the Biden Institute would not disclose its donors because it isn’t required to do so.
The Penn Biden Center, another policy research group founded by Biden at the University of Pennsylvania, has also declined to reveal its contributors. A spokesperson told Politico that the funding comes from the University of Pennsylvania’s general operating budget, not from individually earmarked contributions. The University of Pennsylvania raked in $61 million from China-based donors after the Penn Biden Center opened in 2017, the Free Beacon reported, a significant uptick from the $19 million raised from China during the five years prior.