For a bank, for a lobbying firm, and for a hedge fund

Ok here we go, Adam Entous did a New Yorker piece on Hunter Biden in July.

In speeches, Biden rarely talks about Hunter. But news outlets on the right and mainstream media organizations, including the Times, have homed in on him, reprising old controversies over Hunter’s work for a bank, for a lobbying firm, and for a hedge fund, and scrutinizing his business dealings in China and Ukraine.

He went to work for a lobbying firm right after he spent three years working in the Clinton administration. That’s not necessarily directly corrupt, but it is parlaying government employment into a job as a lobbyist, and not, I think it’s fair to assume, of the public interest kind. Lobbying for cleaner air is one thing and lobbying for weaker laws on clean air is another.

There is little question that Hunter’s proximity to power shaped the arc of his career, and that, as the former aide told me, “Hunter is super rich terrain.”

That’s the thing. Trump’s claims can all be bullshit, and they probably are, but this using proximity to power to get lucrative jobs pattern is its own problem. Hillary Clinton took huge fees from banks for talking to them and then ran for president, and that was not a good move.

Hunter Biden got his law degree in 1996.

Joe Biden was running for reëlection in the Senate, and he appointed Hunter as his deputy campaign manager. Hunter rented an apartment close to his father’s campaign headquarters, and also got a job as a lawyer with MBNA America, a banking holding company based in Delaware, which was one of the largest donors to his father’s campaigns. At the age of twenty-six, Hunter, who was earning more than a hundred thousand dollars and had received a signing bonus, was making nearly as much money as his father. In January, 1998, the conservative reporter and columnist Byron York wrote, in The American Spectator, “Certainly lots of children of influential parents end up in very good jobs. But the Biden case is troubling. After all, this is a senator who for years has sermonized against what he says is the corrupting influence of money in politics.”

Would a banking holding company hire a nobody right out of law school for a huge salary? (What would it be in today’s money? 200k?) I don’t think so. I think the huge salary was because he was Biden’s kid. In other words the bank was buying him to buy influence with Biden.

Then he got the job in the Clinton administration. Then…

In late 2000, near the end of President Clinton’s second term, Hunter again consulted Oldaker, who was starting a lobbying business, the National Group. Oldaker asked the co-founder of the firm, Vincent Versage, to teach Hunter the basics of earmarking—the practice of persuading lawmakers to insert language into legislation which directs taxpayer funds to projects that benefit the lobbyist’s clients.

It’s not illegal. Does that make it good?

Jumping ahead to Burisma.

Several former officials in the Obama Administration and at the State Department insisted that Hunter’s role at Burisma had no effect on his father’s policies in Ukraine, but said that, nevertheless, Hunter should not have taken the board seat. As the former senior White House aide put it, there was a perception that “Hunter was on the loose, potentially undermining his father’s message.” The same aide said that Hunter should have recognized that at least some of his foreign business partners were motivated to work with him because they wanted “to be able to say that they are affiliated with Biden.” A former business associate said, “The appearance of a conflict of interest is good enough, at this level of politics, to keep you from doing things like that.”

What I’m saying. The conflict is there even if nobody did anything shady.

One Response to “For a bank, for a lobbying firm, and for a hedge fund”