Home 20/20 Joe Biden Repeatedly Asked Federal Agencies To Do What His Son’s Lobbying...

Joe Biden Repeatedly Asked Federal Agencies To Do What His Son’s Lobbying Clients Wanted

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News of Hunter Biden profiting from his father’s political activity is becoming an endless saga that has yet to genuinely interest our media who claim “democracy dies in darkness.” The latest set of coincidences, uncovered by Alana Goodman of The Washington Examiner, reveal more unseemly connections between Hunter’s business adventures and his father’s political maneuvers. Whether it be China, Ukraine, or China again, we have heard this pattern before.

While serving as senator of Delaware, Joe Biden reached out discreetly to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to discuss matters his son Hunter Biden’s firm was then lobbying for, according to government records Goodman gathered.

The latest revelations further buttress accusations that Joe Biden’s work as senator and vice president frequently converged with and assisted Hunter Biden’s business interests. Whether it be getting the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son’s company fired or meeting one of his son’s business partners while on a diplomatic trip to China in 2013, Joe Biden’s political activities in relation to his son Hunter have continued to garner scrutiny.

In 2002, while his father was a senator, Hunter founded the lobbying firm Oldaker, Biden & Belair, which lobbied on the Hill. When his father announced his candidacy for president in 2008, Hunter opted to leave the firm, claiming it was to reduce concerns about conflicts of interest.

While Hunter was still at the firm, in late February 2007, then-Sen. Joe Biden reached out to DHS, expressing concern over the department’s proposed chemical security regulations. The regulations were in accordance with Section 550 of the DHS Appropriations Act of 2007, which called for chemical facilities to submit detailed “site security plans” for DHS approval.  Part of these plans were expected to include specifics related to training and credentialing employees.

Biden’s call seems like an eerie coincidence. Two months prior to that phone call, the Industrial Safety Training Council had enlisted Hunter Biden’s firm to lobby DHS precisely on Section 550. The Industrial Safety Training Council is a 501(c)3 that offers safety training services to employees of chemical plants. In the midst of debates over regulations stemming from Section 550, ISTC launched significant lobbying efforts to encourage the expansion of background checks under the new regulation regime.

Hunter was not registered as an individual lobbyist on behalf of ISTC, but he did serve as a senior partner at his namesake firm Oldaker, Biden & Belair, which only boasted three partners at the time. According to Goodman, from early 2007 to the end of 2008, his firm earned a total of $200,000 from ISTC in return for its lobbying efforts.

While we don’t know the source of Joe Biden’s concern over Section 550 and whether his “concern” was the one ISTC shared, it is worth noting this repeated crossover between Hunter Biden’s business and his father’s political stratagems. At some point, coincidences stop being merely a product of a chance. In the case of Hunter and Joe Biden, the coincidences continue to pile up.

Joe Biden’s use of his political power for his son’s business dealings didn’t stop there. At one point, Hunter’s firm was lobbying on behalf of SEARCH, a national nonprofit devoted to information-sharing between states in the criminal justice and public safety realm. SEARCH was interested in expanding the federal government’s fingerprint screening system and hired Hunter’s firm to lobby on behalf of this issue.

During that very time, Joe Biden sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales expressing a desire to unpack this very topic. In his letter, then-Sen. Joe Biden asked to meet with DOJ to explore the benefits of the expanding the federal government’s fingerprint system.

“I write to request your assistance in implementing an expanded background check system for our nation’s volunteer organizations,” Joe Biden’s letter says. “If we can work together to expand the number of volunteer organizations that have access to fast, accurate, and inexpensive fingerprint background checks, we will make significant and important strides in our ongoing effort to protect kids across our country.”

The letter is dated January 31, 2007, 12 days after SEARCH put forth its own resolution, expressing support for recommendations previously made by the attorney general, recommendations which included the “integration of the State criminal history repository system in ways that will allow the return of all criminal history record information maintained by the States on the search subject through a single fingerprint check.” In short, Biden reached out to Gonzalez within days of SEARCH penning its resolution. A fun coincidence, indeed.

It doesn’t stop there. Later, in early 2008, Joe Biden introduced legislation titled the “Child Protection Improvements Act,” which, among other things, ensured that the FBI’s fingerprint background check system would be available for organizations that serve youths. Surprise, surprise. As Goodman reports, Hunter’s firm began lobbying on behalf of SEARCH in favor of the bill. SEARCH compensated Hunter’s firm with a payment of $93,000 in 2008 for its lobbying efforts.

As presidential candidate, Joe Biden waves off accusations of “bad optics” related to his son’s business dealings. Yet it’s worth asking, when do the coincidences become simply untenable? There’s an undeniable, repeated, and unseemly parallel between Joe Biden’s political activity and Hunter Biden’s business interest.

When Joe was running our Ukraine policy, Hunter landed at Burisma. When Joe was the linchpin of our China policy, Hunter was busy shoring up investors in Beijing. At its best, the relationship between Joe Biden and his son represents simply the worst of crony capitalism. At its worst, it’s good, ol’ fashioned corruption. Neither seems particularly desirable, and both indicate bad character.

Erielle Davidson is a Staff Writer at the Federalist and a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. Find her on Twitter at @politicalelle.