Kristen Welker, the White House correspondent and co-anchor of Weekend Today for NBC News, was raised in Philadelphia by parents Harvey and Juliet (Julie) Welker. Her father is white and her mother is Black.
The elder Welkers are both registered Democrats and have donated to Democratic political candidates over the years, according to public Federal Election Commission records. Those contributions have included at least $4,000 to Joe Biden‘s campaign.
Critics pointed to this information in the days leading up to the presidential debate on October 22, which Welker was selected to moderate. President Donald Trump accused Welker of bias on Twitter hours before the debate.
But as Politifact and the conservative Washington Examiner news magazine both pointed out, Kristen Welker herself is not registered with a political party and there is no record of her ever donating to any political candidates.
Here’s what you need to know about Kristen Welker’s parents:
1. Harvey & Julie Welker Have Donated Tens of Thousands of Dollars to Democratic Candidates & Organizations Since 1992
— Monica Robinson (@monicarrobinson) April 7, 2015
Federal Election Commission records, which are freely available to the public, show Julie Welker has been donating to Democratic political campaigns since at least 1992. That year, she contributed $250 to Lynn Yeakel, who was running for the Senate. Yeakel lost the election but eventually went on to serve in the Department of Health and Human Services during President Bill Clinton’s administration.
In 1995, Julie Welker donated $1,000 to Clinton’s re-election campaign. Julie Welker’s first recorded contribution to the Democratic National Committee was in 2004 when she gifted $1,000. She has continued to donate to the DNC ever since, including at least $3,750 between 2011 and 2013.
Harvey Welker’s first recorded political contribution was in September 2008 when he donated $1,000 to then-candidate Barack Obama’s campaign. Harvey and Julie Welker collectively donated more than $23,000 to Obama between 2008 and 2012.
The couple contributed substantially less to Clinton’s campaign. Harvey Welker donated $500 in October 2016. The FEC records show Julie Welker gave $1,600 in the final days before voters headed to the polls in 2016.
The Welker’s contributions have also included donations to Elizabeth Warren’s senatorial campaign, Jon Ossoff of Georgia’s senatorial campaign in 2017, Conor Lamb for Congress, the ActBlue PAC, Bill Nelson for Senate, Bob Casey for Senate and Emily’s List.
2. Kristen Welker Brought Her Father to a Holiday Press Party at the White House in 2012
Kristen Welker brought her father, Harvey Welker, to a reception at the White House in December 2012. They posed for a photo with President Obama and the first lady in a room adorned with holiday decorations. Kristen Welker shared the picture on Facebook with the caption, “Christmas at the White House!”
Days before the October 22 presidential debate, the New York Post published an article claiming Kristen Welker had “deep Democrat ties.” The tabloid newspaper included the photo with the Obamas and wrote, “In 2012, Welker and her family celebrated Christmas at the White House with the Obamas.” But this statement was missing context.
The White House regularly hosts holiday receptions for members of the media and that is where the Christmas picture was taken. Steven Thomma, the executive director of the White House Correspondents Association, explained to Politifact that press members are allowed to bring one guest to the holiday reception. “Guests are asked to go to the ground level, where they wait in line for a quick photo with the president and first lady,” Thomma said. “The photo is taken by the White House photographer, and sent to every guest several days later.”
Politifact also reported that Welker attended the White House holiday reception in 2017, which was hosted by President Trump and first lady Melania Trump. But as Fox News reported in 2018, Trump did not pose for pictures with members of the press at the 2017 event and he canceled the reception entirely in 2018.
3. Julie Welker Is a Real Estate Agent
Julie Welker is a successful real estate agent in Philadelphia. According to records on the Pennsylvania Department of State website, she first obtained her real estate license in August 1978. Her current license was renewed in June 2020 and is scheduled to expire in May 2022.
Welker operates her own company. She is the president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Welker Real Estate. According to her company website, Welker has been her own boss for more than 30 years. Her bio notes that she had “won both Local and National Awards for her work in real estate.” Welker has a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University. She also earned a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania, according to her website.
Kristen Welker praised her mother in a feature dedicated to moms on Maria Shriver’s website. Kristen Welker described Juliet as her “greatest inspiration” and praised her mother’s professional success:
As a professional she became one of the first African American realtors to start her own company in the Center City area of Philadelphia – she was a true trailblazer. From the moment I told my mother that I wanted to be a journalist, she has stood by my side every step of the way. Her support has given me the strength to pursue my dream of not only becoming a White House Correspondent but also the co-anchor of the Weekend Today Show.
My mom texts me after every single live report to cheer me on. I would not be the person or journalist that I am today if it were not for my mom. I feel so fortunate to have her as my mom every day, especially in these unique and challenging times.
4. Harvey Welker Played Football at Dartmouth College & Works as a Cost Consulting Engineer
Harvey Welker attended Dartmouth College, according to his LinkedIn profile. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1965. He stayed at the school for his master’s degree, which he earned in 1967.
Harvey Welker also played football while he was at Dartmouth. In 2015, Kristen Welker shared a picture of her father from his gridiron days.
The guy in the middle of the top row is my dad. Dartmouth class of '65 Funny what you find on the campaign trail! pic.twitter.com/oXkkTp1NVT
— Kristen Welker (@kwelkernbc) July 3, 2015
Dartmouth College has rosters for the majority of its football teams dating back to 1958 available online. Harvey Welker is listed on the 1962 roster. He was 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds and played in the guard position. The roster lists his hometown as Mansfield, Ohio.
Harvey Welker has spent his professional career as a consulting cost engineer, as his wife noted on her company’s website. On LinkedIn, he described himself as a “Power Aspen Capital Cost Estimator” and that in his job, he “provides range of all estimating services and onsite training.” He has been working for WRE Inc in Philadelphia since 1998.
5. Kristen Welker Is Harvey & Julie’s Only Child & They Raised Her in Philadelphia, Where Records Show the Couple Owns Multiple Properties
Harvey and Julie Welker raised their daughter in Philadelphia. She attended the Quaker Germantown Friends School before going on to Harvard University, where she studied American history, according to the Today show.
Kristen Welker told Philadelphia Magazine she always knew she wanted to be a journalist and that her parents encouraged her. She told the magazine about watching Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News while he was reporting on a hurricane. Her father told her at the time, “That’s what you have to do if you want to be a great reporter. You have to go into the eye of hurricane.”
Kristen Welker’s career took her to Providence, Rhode Island; Redding, California; and now Washington, D.C. But her parents have deep roots in Philadelphia. A search of online records shows Harvey and Julie Welker own multiple properties throughout the city, some of which they appear to rent out to tenants. Their primary residence appears to be a three-story townhouse that they purchased for $825,000 in 2008.
City of Philadelphia property records list Harvey and Julie Welker as the owners of at least 12 total properties. The two properties that the couple has held onto the longest are both small, single-family homes in Fairmount. They acquired one of the homes in 1973 for $39,000 and the second for $73,000 in 1976.