Politico: Hunter Biden ethical controversies, scandals merit more scrutiny

Media top headlines October 12

In media news today, ABC News says Krysten Sinema has ‘taken a hard turn to the right,’ Ben & Jerry’s co-founders are stumped on why they refuse to sell ice cream in Israel but do business in red states, and Samantha Bee admits she didn’t want to attack Andrew Cuomo last year

Hunter Biden’s scandals could severely damage “the White House’s efforts to position Biden as a global anti-corruption crusader,” according to Politico. 

Politico national political correspondent Ben Schreckinger’s feature, “‘Hiding the Ball’: Hunter Biden Complicates White House Anti-Corruption Push,” opens by explaining that liberals had “plenty of reason to tune out” scandals related to Hunter Biden during the 2020 election before noting that times have changed. 

Hunter Biden’s scandals could severely damage "the White House’s efforts to position Biden as a global anti-corruption crusader," according to Politico. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)

Schreckinger wrote that Hunter Biden has “remained in the headlines” because he is selling his art, which “immediately invited concerns that people who wanted to ingratiate themselves with the president would overpay for his son’s art.”

The White House promised to keep the identities of buyers a secret, but “many ethics experts expressed sharp disapproval of the arrangement,” according to Schreckinger. 

The Politico correspondent observed that liberal news organizations have largely ignored scandals tied to Hunter Biden but “that may be changing” nine months into his father’s presidency. 

“Along with new evidence that at least some of the alleged laptop material is genuine — as well as other emerging evidence about the deals family members have sought or received from people with an interest in influencing Biden — the bipartisan outcry over the painting venture suggests that the Hunter Biden issue is not going away, and that liberals may increasingly tune in,” Schreckinger wrote. 

“After all, concerns about money influencing politics have traditionally animated liberals more than conservatives,” Schreckinger added. “And with his father in office, Hunter Biden’s activities no longer bear on an electoral choice between Biden and Trump. Instead, they threaten to complicate the White House’s efforts to position Biden as a global anti-corruption crusader, along with its contention that ‘we have the highest ethical standards of any administration in history.’”

Hunter Biden’s artwork reportedly sold for $75,000 apiece before his official New York City art show even opened. At least five pieces sold, and lawyers have started vetting potential patrons who plan to attend the upcoming show, according to the New York Post. 

The sale of Biden’s artwork has raised a number of ethical questions for the White House. Walter Shaub, the former Office of Government Ethics director under President Obama, previously told Fox News that Hunter Biden’s lucrative art career has a “shameful and grifty feeling to it.”

Schreckinger, who also quoted Shaub for his Politico feature, noted “ethics experts generally maintain that officials should avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” but doesn’t think the Biden family has followed that guidance. 

“There is evidence that the Biden family’s activities over the years have regularly presented such an appearance. Far from ethical concerns about Hunter Biden being debunked, the case for close scrutiny only grows stronger when viewed in the full context of the family’s story and in light of events that have unfolded since Election Day,” he wrote. “Biden’s relatives have denied allegations of wrongdoing, and none have been accused of criminal misdeeds related to their business dealings.”

The White House promised to keep the identities of buyers a secret, but "many ethics experts expressed sharp disapproval of the arrangement," according to Politico’s Ben Schreckinger.  (Randy Holmes via Getty Images)HUNTER BIDEN
((Randy Holmes via Getty Images)HUNTER BIDEN)

The Politico correspondent found that members of the Biden family have “repeatedly entered into financial relationships with people who have an interest in influencing their powerful relative,” such as “taking loans from lobbyists; seeking business from labor groups; taking a job with a bank that relied on Biden’s support to pass a personal bankruptcy law loathed by progressives; and, of course, taking a seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, that faced allegations of corruption, even as Biden headed up U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.” 

Other former business contacts have also accused the Biden family of “invoking their political clout to advance their business interests,” Schreckinger wrote before adding that the family has denied this claim. 

Schreckinger added that Hunter Biden has acknowledged a federal probe into his taxes and the president’s son also told CBS News the infamous laptop containing damning images and files “certainly” could belong to him after all. 

“The venture into painting is not an isolated incident, but part of a larger pattern in which the finances of Hunter and other Biden relatives have raised ethics questions or overlapped with the president’s political alliances and public duties,” Schreckinger wrote. 

Politico then listed alleged conflicts of interest related to the Biden family, ranging from highly publicized Hunter Biden scandals to “James Biden’s receipt of an executive role at construction firm HillStone International during his brother’s vice presidency, despite a lack of previous experience in the industry.” 

Schreckinger, who is working on a book about the Biden family, feels that Hunter Biden’s paintings have received the most attention but “these earlier episodes remain murky.” 

“Until they are fully aired out, they threaten to undermine the White House push to take on global corruption and restore public faith in the executive branch,” Schreckinger wrote. 

Fox News’ Peter Aitken and Houston Keene contributed to this report. 

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