White House earmarks $790 million to groups with ties to senior Biden officials
- April 20, 2022
Andrew Kerr, Washington Examiner
Two foreign nonprofit groups with close ties to high-ranking Biden administration officials are poised to receive a combined $790 million from the president’s fiscal year 2023 budget, raising conflict of interest concerns from a watchdog group and a member of Congress.
The White House announced on March 28 that it will commit $500 million from President Joe Biden’s budget to the Norway-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to support affordable COVID-19 vaccine development. Unmentioned in the announcement is that a key Health and Human Services official in charge of coordinating the agency’s COVID-19 response, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell, served as CEPI’s U.S. director just before she joined the Biden administration.
Protect the Public’s Trust, a federal watchdog group, said in a statement the noncompetitive nature of the Biden administration’s plans to earmark funds to CEPI and Gavi deserve scrutiny by congressional and federal investigators.
“The Gavi/Bilimoria and CEPI/O’Connell fact patterns are the exact types of scenarios that gave rise to four alarm fires in the previous administration,” PPT director Michael Chamberlain, a former Trump administration official, said in the statement. “But, in this case, they appear to have been met with mild applause by supporters and crickets among good government groups that were once laser-focused on even the most tangential threads that could create a potential conflict of interest. The double-standard that exists is a major reason for the American public’s lack of trust in its government.”