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Rubio, Colleagues Express Concern Over Gutmann’s Nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Germany

Nov 2, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter to Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, expressing their concerns with President Joe Biden’s nomination of Dr. Amy Gutmann to be the U.S. Ambassador to Germany. In their letter, the senators wrote “we are deeply concerned that our allies will view Dr. Gutmann’s nomination as a quid pro quo. It appears that President Biden could be rewarding a friend who previously provided him with more than $900,000 for what seems to have been a no-show job as the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.” 

“President Biden is fond of saying, ‘diplomacy is back,’ but the nomination of Dr. Gutmann raises serious questions, both substantively and ethically,” the senators concluded. “At minimum, it is critical to establish whether Dr. Gutmann was involved in any quid pro quo tied to Biden’s salary and whether Dr. Gutmann is compromised given the massive influx of Chinese funds into the University.”

Rubio is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The full text of the letter is below. 

Dear Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Risch: 

On July 2, 2021, President Biden announced the nomination of Amy Gutmann to serve as United States Ambassador to Germany, one of the most important diplomatic posts in Europe. If confirmed, Dr. Gutmann will be tasked with managing a relationship that has become strained over disagreements on critical issues like Nord Stream 2, the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, and economic resiliency. We are concerned that Dr. Gutmann, who served as president of the University of Pennsylvania since 2004, does not have the experience necessary for this important diplomatic post. 

What’s more, we are deeply concerned that our allies will view Dr. Gutmann’s nomination as a quid pro quo. It appears that President Biden could be rewarding a friend who previously provided him with more than $900,000 for what seems to have been a no-show job as the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. It is our understanding that this position required no active teaching on Biden’s part. As you receive her nomination disclosures and vet her for this important position, we urge you to convey to Dr. Gutmann that she must be forthcoming with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the American people, prior to her hearing on several important questions:  

  • What role did Dr. Gutmann play in recruiting President Biden to serve as a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania?  
  • What were the job requirements for then-former Vice President Biden as Benjamin Franklin Presidential Professor of Practice?  
  • Does the University of Pennsylvania have other honorary professors who received approximately $900,000 in compensation? 

In addition to issues surrounding President Biden’s “no show” professorship, there are serious questions around Dr. Gutmann’s acceptance of foreign funds. A recent Philadelphia Inquirer report found that the University of Pennsylvania received at least $258 million in foreign cash between 2013 and mid-2019, with the largest portion originating from Chinese entities.  

  • Did Dr. Gutmann personally sign off on accepting the donations?  
  • What type of vetting did the University do to ensure the funds were not coming from the Chinese Communist Party or Chinese government-affiliated entities associated with the People’s Liberation Army or those carrying out genocide in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region? 
  • Did the Chinese entities attach any strings to the University’s use of the funds? 
  • Did the University ever direct any foreign funds to the Penn Biden Center?  
  • Given the concerns about Chinese money distorting diplomatic relations today, does Dr. Gutmann believe she can be a forceful voice against the malicious influence of Beijing’s finance-based diplomatic effort in Europe and around the world? 

Finally, Dr. Gutmann’s personal behavior as the University of Pennsylvania’s president raises serious questions about her stewardship of public dollars, including her $3.9 million in total compensation in 2020, which made her the second-highest-paid Ivy League president.  

  • Why did the University reduce compensation for other senior leadership during the pandemic, but not for Dr. Gutmann?

President Biden is fond of saying, “diplomacy is back,” but the nomination of Dr. Gutmann raises serious questions, both substantively and ethically. At minimum, it is critical to establish whether Dr. Gutmann was involved in any quid pro quo tied to Biden’s salary and whether Dr. Gutmann is compromised given the massive influx of Chinese funds into the University. These are important questions that the Committee must clarify before moving forward with the nominee. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Sincerely,