President Joe Biden clearly has no problem with his son Hunter Biden cashing in on the family name. It’s something Biden has in common with former President Donald Trump.
According to Forbes, Trump’s estimated wealth dropped from an estimated $3.6 billion in 2016 to $2.4 billion in April — which means he lost a fortune while in office. Conflicts nonetheless existed as Trump made it known that he kept track of which foreign dignitaries and political interests spent money at his properties.
While Trump bled millions those four years, Biden far surpassed the limits of a public servant’s salary. The self-styled working-class Democrat who used to talk about being one of the poorest men in the Senate earned more than $17 million while Trump was in the White House.
In 2014, when Biden was President Barack Obama’s point man to fight corruption in Ukraine, Hunter Biden found himself in the pay of a Ukraine energy firm. Burisma paid Biden, now 51, some $50,000 per month over five years — despite that fact that, the New York Times reported, the son “lacked any experience in Ukraine and just months earlier had been discharged from the Navy Reserve for testing positive for cocaine.”
It didn’t look good during the 2020 primary and general election. Still, the former vice president offered, “My son did nothing wrong,” during his first debate with Trump.
Was it legal? Probably. Did it flout appearances and reek of influence peddling? Absolutely — at least to anyone not in big media.
Now we learn that Hunter Biden is out of the lucrative international consulting business — and has turned to art. Have no fear that Biden’s change of career will leave him in the penury that one associates with starving artists. Art dealer George Berges has let it be known that he plans to sell Biden’s works for $75,000 to $500,000 each — and buyers will remain anonymous.
There will be no mechanism to learn who paid how much for Young Biden’s masterpieces, a representative for Berges told Fox News.
Where’s the outrage about the lack of transparency?
Large news outlets have reported on Hunter Biden’s career change, but not with the breathlessness and investigative zeal reserved for Trump’s hotel guests. Biden’s new stint as artiste plays more like a feature story.
Team Biden knew they’d have to put out an approved version of Biden’s Burisma deal.
In his book, Beautiful Things, for which he received a $2 million advance, the younger Biden writes that his name was a “coveted credential” that may have prompted Burisma to hire him but added, “I was absolutely qualified to do what Burisma needed done.”
Which makes Biden’s ability to make the transition to highly paid artist and author a testament to his talents.
Critics of Biden “ethics” may be rare, but they do exist. Walter Shaub, the former Office of Government Ethics director appointed by Obama, told Fox News, the younger Biden’s new arrangement is tainted with a “shameful and grifty feeling to it.”
“Let’s let foreign govts or anyone else funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars anonymously to POTUS’s relatives through subjectively priced commodities like hotel charges, real estate purchases and art. Oh wait, no, art is COMPLETELY different. (sarcasm),” Shaub tweeted.
“I’m still glad Biden is president. I just want him to make ethics and democracy a more explicit priority,” Shaub also tweeted.
On Fox, Shaub compared the Biden art business to Trump hotels selling rooms to foreign officials. But at least Trump’s hotels predated his election victory. And in office, Trump didn’t cash in; he cashed out.
Be it noted, Shaub stepped down from his ethics perch early after he protested Trump’s refusal to put his assets in a blind trust. Trump’s decision to flout that convention fed into Democrats’ belief that he did not take the office seriously.
You see, Trump thought that even though he was president, he could do whatever he wanted, just because, well, he could.
Apparently, the Bidens think likewise. And they have no reason to change.
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at email@example.com.
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