Biden campaign freezes contributions from Indian-American donor

Questions arise over business practices and alleged CIA claims surrounding Gaurav Srivastava

Joe Biden(Left) and Gaurav Srivastava(Right) / Wikipedia and

The re-election campaign of US President Joe Biden and a Democratic Party committee have decided to freeze donations from an Indian-American businessman amid allegations that he falsely claimed association with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

A Biden campaign official stated that a US$50,000 donation made by Gaurav Srivastava to the Biden Victory Fund last April was put in escrow due to concerns about its source and legality, as per a Politico report. Similarly, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which received nearly US$290,000 last year from Srivastava, has set aside the funds for the "foreseeable future" as a precautionary measure.

The decision to freeze the funds follows media reports questioning Srivastava's business practices and philanthropy.

President Biden's re-election campaign reported raising US$10 million in the 24 hours following a fiery State of the Union address, where he accused Donald Trump of threatening democracy and torpedoing a bill to tackle US immigration woes.

However, doubts have arisen regarding Srivastava's business practices. Based in Los Angeles, Srivastava has been active in various charitable causes, but a profile by Project Brazen raised doubts about his integrity, including claims of false CIA ties. The Atlantic Council, a think tank dealing with international affairs, cut ties with Srivastava after struggling to verify his background.

Srivastava and his wife Sharon donated over US$1 million to the think tank for its Global Food Security Forum in Bali in November 2022. They manage a charitable organization named the 'Gaurav and Sharon Srivastava Family Foundation', which serves communities worldwide lacking fundamental resources available in the United States.

Reports have also questioned Srivastava's identity and employment details. Despite claiming to work for Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Management (AECOM) in campaign filings, the global infrastructure firm denied employing him in the US. Srivastava later listed himself as the chairman of Unity Resource Group, a security operations company.

Connections between Srivastava and Biden reportedly extend beyond donations. Unity Resources Group briefly employed a lobbying firm led by former Biden aide Ankit Desai, and Srivastava reportedly met Biden personally last year.

Srivastava, listing AECOM as his employer, donated $6,600 to Representative Mikie Sherrill's campaign and US$3,300 to Senator Maria Cantwell's campaign, this time listing Unity Resources Group as his employer. Both campaigns redirected the funds to local charities