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President-elect Joe Biden may fill key embassy posts with Hollywood megadonors whose ties to the Chinese Communist Party have prompted federal investigations.
Former DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and current Disney honcho Bob Iger are leading candidates to become the American ambassador to China, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The pair’s business dealings with the Chinese Communist Party were the subject of a 2012 bribery investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Biden championed Hollywood’s entry into Chinese markets during the Obama administration. Katzenberg accompanied the then-vice president to multiple junkets to China, while Iger helped Biden negotiate with CCP strongman Xi Jinping. The regime not only expanded Hollywood’s access in Beijing but also offered DreamWorks a $330 million joint venture with a Chinese state-owned enterprise in 2012—a deal that later became the centerpiece of the SEC probe.
Katzenberg donated $617,800 to the Biden Victory Fund and hosted several events for the president-elect. Iger, who is also reportedly under consideration to become America’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, shelled out $250,000 to back Biden.
The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment.
Some lawmakers are already pushing back on Biden’s turn to Hollywood to defend U.S. interests against an increasingly aggressive rival. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wisc.) said that the move would threaten “to destroy the growing bipartisan consensus on the CCP’s egregious human rights abuses.” He pointed to Disney’s choice to film parts of its live-action Mulan remake in the same regions the CCP uses to detain its Uighur Muslim population.