WASHINGTON — Congress wrote to the nation’s top universities on Monday demanding they hand over all records of donations they have accepted from foreign governments and rogue regimes, citing concerns the multi-million-dollar gifts are a growing national security threat, The Post can reveal.
The letters obtained by The Post were sent to the presidents of six of the country’s leading colleges — including Harvard, NYU and Yale — after a Department of Education investigation, this year found American universities had accepted $6.4 billion of hidden foreign donations.
The University of Chicago, University of Delaware, Harvard University, New York University, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University now have one week to produce all unredacted records of gifts, contracts and agreements with foreign governments since Jan. 2015.
The letters were sent by Reps. Jim Jordan (R. Ohio), Virginia Foxx (R. NC) and James Comer (R. Ky), the ranking members of the powerful House Judiciary, House Oversight and Reform and House Education and Labor committees.
The colleges could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.
Lawmakers said they were troubled by the fact 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.
The institutions have accepted tens of millions of dollars worth of gifts or contracts from China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia, according to DOE records, raising concerns about foreign influence and spying in the US higher education system.
Since 2015, Harvard University has declared 31 gifts or contracts totaling $101 million from China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia.
New York University received $40 million from these five regimes during the same time period.
The University of Pennsylvania took $62 million while the Universities of Chicago, Delaware and Yale pocketed less than $30 million.
In January, the head of Harvard’s chemistry department was charged with lying to the Defense Department about accepting $1.5 million as part of a Chinese research scheme, while the University of Pennsylvania recently received $3 million from a company reportedly owned by a Chinese Communist Party-linked businessman.
Jordan, Foxx and Comer said they were most concerned by evidence that the donations, which took the form of contracts with professors and universities, 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 were two universities with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) aligned Jilin University publicly defending the Communist regime after reports emerged 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 as “confidential,” one attorney for the department told lawmakers in May.
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