The Biden Family Business: Corruption | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Biden Family Business: Corruption
George Neumayr
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Riding the train with Sen. Arlen Specter in 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)

Excerpted with permission from George Neumayr’s The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats’ Crypto-Socialist?, which is published today by Regnery Publishing.

During his long senatorial career, Joe Biden cast himself as an everyman, “Amtrak Joe,” known for taking the train daily to Washington, D.C., from his home in Delaware. The image he sought to create was one of a simple legislator independent of the usual corrupting influences pols face.

In truth, Joe Biden knows those influences all too well. He heads up a family of wealthy lobbyists and political operatives who have spent decades trading on his last name.

In Profiles in Corruption, Peter Schweizer points out that the Biden family’s wealth “depends on Joe Biden’s political influence and involves no less than five family members: Joe’s son Hunter, daughter Ashley, brothers James and Frank, and sister Valerie.”

Biden’s sister has headed up a political messaging firm, to which “two and a half million dollars flowed … from Citizens for Biden and Biden for President Inc. during the 2008 presidential bid alone,” Schweizer wrote.

The Biden Deception by George Neumayr, book cover, excerpt on family corruption (John Caruso/Regnery Publishing) spectator.org

John Caruso, Regnery Publishing

Meanwhile, Biden’s brothers have capitalized on his public “service” through a variety of lobbying gigs and sketchy businesses. Hunter Biden got a million-dollar job on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas firm without a lick of experience in that field. And Biden’s brother James became an executive at a construction firm even though he had little to no experience in construction, according to Schweizer: “James Biden was joining Hillstone just as the firm was starting negotiations to win a massive contract in war-torn Iraq.”

Brother Frank, though he had no experience in education, used his last name to get a job with a dubious charter school management firm that raked in millions of dollars from federal grants during the Obama years — all while his brother feigned opposition to such expenditures.

“It would be easier to dismiss these entanglements if they only involved one of the Bidens,” writes Schweizer. “The fact that it involves five family members indicates that there is a culture within the Biden family that trades off Joe’s power. And Joe appears willing to act on their behalf whenever he can.”

Even leftists find the Biden’s family record embarrassing. Branko Marcetic of Jacobin magazine wrote of his fears of a Biden candidacy: “The Biden family’s propensity for engaging in money-making ventures that — gee whiz, just somehow seem to constantly overlap with Biden’s political career — will make him a perfect foil to Trump. Whether it’s Biden’s son, Hunter, being hired as a lobbyist for a Delaware credit card company whose favored legislation Biden was voting for; Biden’s brother mysteriously getting hired by a mid-size construction firm shortly before it received a $1.5 billion government contract; or Hunter, again, joining the board of a corruption-tainted Ukrainian gas producer while Biden spearheaded US policy on Ukraine.”

Politico’s Ben Schreckinger refers to the family as Biden Inc: “Biden’s image as a straight-shooting man of the people, however, is clouded by the careers of his son and brother, who have lengthy track records of making, or seeking, deals that cash in on his name. There’s no evidence that Joe Biden used his power inappropriately or took action to benefit his relatives with respect to these ventures. Interviews, court records, government filings and news reports, however, reveal that some members of the Biden family have consistently mixed business and politics over nearly half a century, moving from one business to the next as Joe’s stature in Washington grew.”

Critics also note another source of political corruption over the years: Biden’s closeness with credit card companies in Delaware. “Joe Biden pretends that he is middle-class Joe and in reality he’s corporate Joe,” Georgetown Law professor Adam Levitin told the Washington Examiner.

Biden did the bidding of the credit card industry most famously by spearheading the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which put the squeeze on consumers. The Delaware-based credit card company MBNA, which had dumped tens of thousands of dollars into Biden’s campaign chest over the years, lobbied hard for the bill. Biden’s subservience to the company inspired reporter Byron York to give him the nickname “the senator from MBNA.”

Raw political self-interest, not moderate ideology, drove his decision to push legislation for credit card companies. “The bill was a big, fat, wet kiss for credit card companies and auto lenders,” Levitin told the Washington Examiner.

Liberals hold the 2005 legislation against Biden to this day. “His energetic work on behalf of the credit card companies has earned him the affection of the banking industry and protected him from any well-funded challengers for his Senate seat,” Elizabeth Warren wrote for the Harvard Women’s Law Journal. “This important part of Senator Biden’s legislative work also appears to be missing from his Web site and publicity releases.”

The liberal publication Mother Jones noted, “Biden takes criticism of his bankruptcy position personally, in part because it infringes so directly on his well-cultivated political identity — a middle-class warrior and longtime critic of corporate campaign contributions.”

The liberal HuffPost also expressed disappointment in Biden for not standing up for the little guy: “During his career as a senator, Biden also supported many policies that were favorable to banks and big corporations, such as legislation exempting soda makers from antitrust regulation and financial deregulatory measures that helped set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession.”

Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout is another liberal who thinks Biden’s corruption makes him eminently defeatable: “Biden has a big corruption problem and it makes him a weak candidate.… ‘Middle Class’ Joe has perfected the art of taking big contributions, then representing his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans. Converting campaign contributions into legislative favors and policy positions isn’t being ‘moderate.’ It is the kind of transactional politics Americans have come to loathe.”

Over the years Biden has portrayed himself as nearly penniless. In fact, he is a multimillionaire. “The 77-year-old has touted himself as ‘Middle-Class Joe’ for decades — but he and his wife, Jill, have a net worth of $9 million, according to a Forbes estimate from July 2019,” wrote Taylor Borden of Business Insider. “The couple’s fortune is mostly tied to public speaking engagements and book royalties, according to tax returns and financial disclosures released by the Biden campaign and published on the campaign’s website.”

Biden’s friendly relationship with MBNA during his senatorial years resulted in a gusher of benefits for him and his family, as Byron York established in a piece about that relationship in The American Spectator:

Biden and MBNA have indeed developed a pretty cozy relationship. John Cochran, the company’s vice-chairman and chief marketing officer, did pay top dollar for Biden’s house, and MBNA gave Cochran a lot of money — $330,000 — to help with “expenses” related to the move. A few months after the sale, as Biden’s re-election effort got under way, MBNA’s top executives contributed generously to his campaign in a series of coordinated donations that sidestepped the limits on contributions by the company’s political action committee. And then, a short time after the election, MBNA hired Biden’s son for a lucrative job in which, according to bank officials, he is being groomed for a senior management position.

Despite all of this, Biden has made removing money from politics one of his signature issues. He has hypocritically bashed the Trump family for enriching themselves off the government while exonerating his own son and siblings from that charge. He says that he “strongly believes that we could improve our politics overnight if we flushed big money from the system and had public financing of our elections. Democracy works best when a big bank account or a large donor list are not prerequisites for office, and elected representatives come from all backgrounds, regardless of resources. But for too long, special interests and corporations have skewed the policy process in their favor with political contributions.”

Biden’s campaign website says that he has “advocated for public financing of federal campaigns since the very beginning of his Senate career. He first co-sponsored legislation to create a public financing system for House and Senate candidates in 1973. In 1997 and many years afterward, he co-sponsored a constitutional amendment that would have limited contributions as well as corporate and private spending in elections and prevented the damage caused by the Supreme Court in Citizens United.”

Yet from the very beginning of his career Biden used his political activities to benefit his family. According to the Atlantic, even “some of his aides” worried about the appearance of “impropriety” that caused: “His family members started working for him during his first campaign, a 1970 run for New Castle County council. His sister, Valerie Biden Owens, managed that council race and his first Senate run two years later. His brother Jimmy handled fundraising for that Senate run. His other brother, Frank, was the volunteer coordinator.”

The Center for Public Integrity did a report on Biden and found him to be the typical money-grubbing pol who leverages his associations to benefit himself, his family, and his former aides:

In the past couple of years, Biden has created a network of organizations across the country that employ his former political aides — a savvy move, some said, for a politician preparing for a potential presidential run, according to the New York Times. They include American Possibilities (a political action committee), the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, the Biden Cancer Initiative, Biden Foundation, Biden Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.… Notable donors to American Possibilities PAC, according to Federal Election Commission filings, include Timothy Gill, a Colorado software entrepreneur and gay-rights activist; Hollywood producers Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg; Joe Kiani, CEO of healthcare technology company Masimo Corp. and chairman of Masimo Foundation; and Larry Rasky, chairman and CEO of public relations firm Rasky Partners, who also served as Biden’s press secretary for his presidential bid in 1988 and communications director for “Biden for President” during the 2008 presidential race. Biden dropped out of the 2008 race after winning less than 1 percent of the vote during the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus.

The Biden Foundation raked in $3.2 million in 2017, according to the nonprofit’s latest tax return. Over a longer period, the foundation received at least $1 million each from its top three donors, which are disclosed on the organization’s website: Gill and his husband, Scott Miller; the Masimo Foundation; and the Bohemian Foundation, a community oriented nonprofit based in Fort Collins, Colorado.

None of this stops Biden from pontificating about “dark money” and other evil influences in politics.

As we have seen, he has made the ludicrous claim that the Obama administration was scandal-free: “For the eight years of the Obama-Biden Administration, there was not a hint of scandal. The administration established the most stringent ethics code ever adopted by any White House. Its procedures ensured that all decisions were made on the merits, without bias, favoritism, or undue influence.… The Trump Administration has shredded those standards. Trump is accepting foreign emoluments, and has disregarded his pledge not to expand his business overseas. And, Trump is using the federal government to prop up his resorts with countless tax dollars.”

Biden’s moralizing about Trump never seems to stop. He even says that Trump is “corrupting” America’s children — this from a pol whose son Hunter is a walking display of corruption. The irony of fretting over the “example” Trump is setting for the nation’s children while his own child self-destructs appears to be lost on Biden.

Hunter Biden has had serious drug problems, a habit he has financed with money from his lucrative gigs in Ukraine and China. The Intercept’s Ryan Grim reports, “One particularly out-of-control bender, which included a crack pipe found in a rental car, took place while Biden was making $50,000 a month serving on the board of [the Ukrainian company] Burisma.”

In 2020, Hunter Biden got hit with a paternity suit by a woman in Arkansas. Then there are his Ashley Madison troubles: Hunter’s name turned up in the subscriber data for the dating site for adulterers after it got hacked. Hunter tried to explain it away as a dirty trick by the Russians.

But reporter Patrick Howley traced the breached subscriber data back to the university where Hunter was teaching: “[A]ccount information shows that the profile, which was confirmed by a credit card purchase in 2014, was used at the latitude/longitude point of 38.912682, -77.071704. That latitude-longitude point just happens to exist on the Georgetown University campus, at an administrative building on Reservoir Road. And Hunter Biden just happened to be teaching there around the time the account was set up.”

A bad influence on Hunter was his lobbyist uncle, James Biden, who has been cashing in on his brother’s last name for years, according to reporter Ryan Grim: “In trading on his father’s name and power to advance his career, Hunter Biden is following in the footsteps of James Biden, Joe’s younger brother.”

At one point, Hunter and his uncle worked for the same phonybaloney financial firm — that is, until Paradigm Global Advisors went bust in 2010.

According to the New Yorker, Hunter has been to rehab at least five times and once had a crack dealer pull a gun on him. After testing positive for cocaine use, he got bounced from the Navy Reserve.

His cavortings have proven particularly messy. Hunter got sexually involved with his dead brother’s wife, then crossed the country to live in Los Angeles after the relationship dissolved, only to enter into a quickie wedding with a South African woman he had known for less than two weeks. ABC reported that Joe Biden, after learning of the spontaneous wedding, told his son’s freshly minted wife, “Thank you for giving my son the courage to love again” — a line so laughable only the tacky Joe Biden could have come up with it.

Hunter Biden makes Hugh and Tony Rodham, Hillary’s buffoonish loose-living brothers, look abstemious. And yet even Hunter is given to moralizing about Trump. He has decried what the supposedly amoral Donald Trump has “done to the presidency.” Hunter has said he was taught by his pop to “revere” the office, and it makes him really, really sad to see it fall into the hands of such a vulgarian.

Such commentary is remarkable given the role Hunter’s father has played in protecting his corrupt ventures. One interesting question is what role Biden played in protecting Hunter’s lucrative job in Ukraine.

As John Solomon reported in the Hill in 2019:

Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.…

But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

Joe Biden’s campaign website has a section on what he would do to curb lobbying. In light of his family’s involvement in dubious lobbying, the section looks like overcompensation on Biden’s part:

HOLD THE LOBBIED AND LOBBYISTS TO A HIGHER STANDARD OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Our government should operate in the public interest — making decisions on the merits, and not to meet the demands of well-heeled interests. The public has a right to know when lobbyists meet Members of Congress and Executive Branch officials; it should know with whom they speak, and about what. What’s more, lobbyists often provide draft legislative or regulatory language they hope to be enacted. That information should be made public, too. Today, our lobbyist regulations are filled with loopholes and only lobbyists and the corporate interests they represent are required to disclose far too little. It is time that we strengthen our lobbyist rules and hold public officials accountable by making sure they meet these higher standards too.

As president, Biden will:

  • Hold elected officials accountable for public transparency of lobbying meetings. Existing lobbying law focuses primarily on the people who are doing the lobbying. It is time the law expanded to include the public officials who are the subject of lobbying. If your Senator or Representative is meeting with a special interest group, you should know.

If the Secretary of Education is making decisions about student debt after dozens of meetings with lenders, you should know that, too. Biden will expand lobbying disclosure laws, so the obligation for transparency falls on the office-holder, as well as on the lobbyist. Specifically, Biden will propose legislation to require elected officials to disclose monthly any meetings or communications with any lobbyist or special interest trying to influence the passage or defeat of a specific bill — whether seeking the officeholder’s vote, or assistance in introducing or developing legislation. Under the Biden plan, members of Congress will be required to disclose any legislative language or bill text submitted by any lobbying party. Executive Branch officials will be required to disclose any regulatory text submitted by any outside entity. And, members of Congress and senior executive branch officials will be required to develop and disclose any access policy they have that governs requests for appointments. The CFE will make all of that information publicly available. If an office-holder believes that meetings with particular entities serve the public, let them explain why.

  • Make lobbying disclosure meaningful. Lobbying law should effectively inform the public and discourage conduct that distorts government decision-making. But current law does neither. Disclosure requirements are riddled with loopholes, so lobbyists can coordinate a PR campaign without ever disclosing their work. Detailed campaigns can be shielded by vague references to lobbying a chamber of Congress. Influencers are free to disclose only general information about the laws and regulatory activity they are trying to shape, without revealing specifics. Biden will lower the threshold for when those seeking to influence government decisions must register as “lobbyists” — to include anyone who earns more than $1,000 annually to be involved in developing or overseeing a lobbying strategy.

The law will require them to disclose in detail exactly what they’re doing: with whom they’re meeting, the materials they’re sharing, any specific legislative (or regulatory) language they are proposing, and precisely what outcomes they’re seeking.

  • Prohibiting foreign governments’ use of lobbyists. There is no reason why a foreign government should be permitted to lobby Congress or the Executive Branch, let alone interfere in our elections. If a foreign government wants to share its views with the United States or to influence its decisionmaking, it should do so through regular diplomatic channels.

The Biden Administration will bar lobbying by foreign governments; and it will require that any foreign business seeking to lobby must verify that no foreign government materially owns or controls any part of it.

  • Ensure truly public access. In Washington, the ability to schedule a meeting with an elected official or his or her staff is a form of currency. Under the Biden plan, members of Congress and senior Executive Branch officials will be required to develop and disclose to the public any policies that their office has instituted on when to accept or prioritize appointments. In addition, Biden will return to the Obama-Biden Administration practice of disclosing White House visitor lists.

Should Biden win the presidency, would he apply any of this to his own family?

Excerpted with permission from George Neumayr’s The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats’ Crypto-Socialist?, which is published today by Regnery Publishing.

George Neumayr
George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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