When the University of Pennsylvania launched a think tank named for Joe Biden in 2017, it didn’t just create a prestige institution tied to the man who had just left the vice president’s office.

It also created a landing spot for many longtime Biden advisers in the time between when he left the White House and then ran for president.

The center is now drawing scrutiny from House Republicans as they ramp up investigations into the Democratic president, in large part because of classified documents found in November at the Washington, D.C. offices of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

House Republicans have asked for more information about the center’s funding sources, pointing, in part, to the salaries paid to employees who later became Biden administration officials.

Here are officials who worked at the Biden Center and then joined the administration, often after having also worked with Biden when he was vice president:

Antony Blinken

Blinken was a longtime senior Biden aide, including serving as his national security adviser when Biden was vice president. He was the Biden Center’s managing director from May 2017 to June 2019, and is now Biden’s secretary of state. Antony’s public disclosures show the Biden Center paid him $79,666 in the first six months of 2019.

Steve Ricchetti

Another key figure in Biden’s inner circle, Ricchetti was Biden’s chief-of-staff in the Obama administration, and later became managing director of the Biden Center (the same position Blinken had held). He’s now counselor to the president.

Michael Carpenter

Carpenter was a foreign policy adviser to then-Vice President Biden before becoming deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, and conventional arms control. He also served as the center’s managing director and disclosed $208,183 in salary from Penn over 16 months, according to his federal financial disclosure form. He is now the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Colin Kahl

Kahl was deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and national security advisor to then-Vice President Biden from October 2014 to January 2017. He was a strategic consultant to the Penn Biden Center, and is now undersecretary of defense for policy. He listed $185,317 in pay from the center over two years before rejoining the federal government.

Brian McKeon

A longtime Biden confidant, McKeon served as deputy national security advisor to Biden when Biden was vice president, along with holding other top positions in the Obama administration. McKeon became a senior director at the Penn-Biden Center, and was then the Department of State’s deputy secretary of state for management and resources in the Biden administration. He left that post in December.

Jeffrey Prescott

A deputy national security advisor in Biden’s vice presidential office, Prescott then became a strategic consultant at the center. He’s now deputy to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Spencer Boyer

Another Obama administration alum, Boyer was a senior fellow at the Biden center and is now deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy.

Ariana Berengaut

She was the Biden Center’s founding director of programs, partnerships, and strategic planning after working in the Obama administration, including at the Department of State. She later became a senior adviser to Biden National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Juan Gonzalez

A one-time special adviser for Biden in the vice president’s office, Gonzalez was a senior fellow at the Biden Center and is now a special assistant to the president and senior director for the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council.

Carlyn Reichel

She was communications director for the Biden Center and later became a speech writer on the National Security Council.

Bill Russo

A former Blinken aide, Russo helped launch the Biden Center and worked on some of its early student programming before becoming a top communications aide on Biden’s presidential campaign. He joined the Biden administration in 2022 as an acting principal deputy assistant secretary of state.

About House Republicans’ investigation

Republicans on the House oversight committee sent a letter to Penn last week asking questions about the Biden Center as part of the GOP efforts to investigate the Democratic president. Along with asking questions about its funding, they pointed to the connections between the center’s staff and the Biden administration.

The White House has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the GOP investigation, while Penn said last week the center was entirely paid for through “university funds” and that the school overall is “fully compliant with federal law regarding the reporting of foreign gifts and contracts.”

Penn did not respond to requests for comment on the center’s staffing.

Republicans have asked if donations originating in China helped pay for the Biden initiative, but Penn said the center “has never solicited or received any gifts from any Chinese or other foreign entity.”


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