Biden Inc. Is More Corrupt Than Cronyism
It was almost exactly one year ago that Joe Biden stood on the primary debate stage and was confronted for the first time about Hunter Biden’s decision to accept a lucrative position at a Ukrainian energy company while his father oversaw foreign policy in the region.
“My son made a judgment. I’m proud of the judgment he made.”
The answer came only hours after his son admitted to ABC News that his judgment was, in fact, off. “In retrospect, I wish that my judgment…” Hunter Biden said on ‘Good Morning America’ before trailing off. “Did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah.”
Today, Biden, Inc., is back in the news, as the New York Post and others continue to publish a series of articles revealing that the former vice president was much more intimately involved in the younger Biden’s business dealings than previously known.
The strategic response from the Democrat’s allies has been an intentional blackout. Twitter prohibited users from sharing a link to the Post’s investigation and locked the newspaper out of its own account. George Stephanopoulos conducted a two-hour ‘town hall’ with Biden, during which the anchor failed to ask a single question about the corruption allegations. And, when the nominee finally ventured outside to get ice cream, the toughest question that the media in attendance asked was: “Mr. Biden! Mr. Biden! What flavor did you get?”
A CBS News reporter attempted to solicit a response on the tarmac, but Biden blew him off. “I know you’d ask it,” the candidate said. “I have no response. It’s another smear campaign. Right up your alley.” The campaign’s response devolved from there—surrogates insist that anyone even the least bit curious about the vice president’s role in Hunter Biden’s unusual business relationships is part of a foreign intelligence effort—and it’s just going to get worse.
Unfortunately, this is a play we’ve seen before. The Bidens have been doing this shady work, and ‘exiting’ from it when convenient, for a very long time.
In 2001, fresh off a plum job in the Clinton administration, Hunter Biden was named founding partner at Oldaker, Biden & Belair LLP. The lobbying firm—on whose website Biden touted his status “a presidential appointee” of Bill Clinton—quickly took on a scattershot of clients ranging from hospitals to universities and, according to Delaware’s News Journal, was known for “specializing in the sort of earmarks doled out by Sen. [Joe] Biden.”
Hunter Biden would go on to personally shape appropriations bills on behalf of clients, and in a short period donate more than $35,000 to federal candidates, including $10,000 to his father’s colleagues who were members of the appropriations committees at the time he was lobbying them.
And it was no secret why Hunter Biden’s first client chose him: Napster, the file-sharing service, was facing a barrage of attacks from Congress—a fight in which his father was expected to play a major role. Joe Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, two powerful entities with unique interests in copyright laws that Napster was under fire for flouting.
The company tapped Manus Cooney and Karen Robb to lead its lobbying efforts… alongside, strangely, Hunter Biden.
Whereas Cooney and Robb had extensive experience—serving as the judiciary committee’s most recent chief counsel (including during Napster’s appearance before it two months earlier) and as a staff director, respectively—the younger Biden’s only qualification appeared to be his biological tie to the committee’s former chairman. Just one month after Hunter Biden registered to lobby for Napster on the issue of “compulsory licensing,” the service’s chief executive officer appeared before the judiciary committee, of which Joe Biden was a member, and called on members “to provide a compulsory license for the transmission of music over the Internet.”
It was clear what was going on, and Team Obama, running on an anti-corruption platform, wasn’t happy about it. The Illinois senator chose Biden as his running mate on Aug. 23., 2008. Two days later, Hunter Biden wrote a letter to Congress stating that “I no longer expect to act as a federal lobbyist.”
There was no moral epiphany. His conflict of interest simply was no longer politically tenable while running for the White House. But after the election, as ‘senator’ became ‘vice president,’ Biden, Inc., opened back up for business, and Hunter Biden pivoted from congressional lobbying to international consulting, violating the spirit of his pledge as soon as Election Day passed.
That violation would continue for years.
In December 2013, Hunter Biden accompanied the vice president on an Air Force Two flight to Beijing and, upon arrival, arranged for him to shake hands with businessman Jonathan Li. Bohai Capital, Li’s firm, would go on to partner with Rosemont Seneca Partners—co-founded by Biden six months after his father took office—to form a foreign investment fund called BHR Partners. Corporate records for BHR Partners were completed 12 days after the Bidens’ trip to Beijing.
Even a former senior aide in the Obama White House later said that the younger Biden appeared to be “leveraging access for his benefit.”
In May 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy firm, one month after his father traveled to Kiev to urge parliament to “fight the cancer of corruption.” In fact, Burisma was being investigated for corruption by Ukraine’s prosecutor general, who was fired at the insistence of Vice President Biden under the threat of withholding U.S. loan guarantees.
Burisma paid Hunter Biden $50,000 per month, the purpose of which, as the Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer said, was “clearly to be selling influence, because otherwise no one would ever pay him that kind of money.” He would retain the board seat until April 2019, the same month his father announced his candidacy for president.
This is barely the tip of the iceberg.
Just as it was in 2008, Biden, Inc., may be on a temporary hiatus, but it will be back. Joe Biden has long embraced the business of selling access until it becomes politically untenable—and recent reports from the New York Post and other institutional newsrooms suggest that the Biden family’s overlap of business and public office became something much more serious than simple cronyism.
It is not inappropriate or insensitive for the American people to question how (time and time again) someone with Hunter Biden’s troublesome background became, at a moment’s notice, an expert in copyright enforcement, Ukrainian geopolitics, and other complex policy issues at precisely the same moment that his father began to oversee them in government.
The media’s refusal to demand an answer before Election Day is journalistic malpractice, and the Democrat’s failure to have done so already is disqualifying in and of itself.
Brian Anderson is founder of the Saguaro Group, an Arizona-based research firm..