There is a obvious concern this week over the selection of the newest member of the board of directors for Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer: Vice President Joe Biden’s youngest son, Hunter Biden. Despite a strong resume, it seems rather coincidental that Ukraine is receiving aid from the United States and recently had a visit from Vice President Joe Biden only to decide that his youngest son was the very best person to sit on its board.
Hunter Biden will be in charge of the Burisma’s legal unit and will “provide support” among international organizations. The White House spokesman would only say that “Hunter Biden and other members of the family are obviously private citizens and where they work is not an endorsement by the president or vice president.”
Reporters were referred to Biden’s law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, which declined to coment.
Alan Apter, the chairman of the company’s board of directors, said it views the selection as part of its effort to “introduc[e] best corporate practices, and we’re delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals.” Those “best corporate practices” are hardly the best ethical practices if the company is hiring the children of high ranking officials to curry favor. This is particularly a concern in Ukraine which, as we discussed earlier, leads Europe as one of its most corrupt nations where the family members of powerful politicians are routinely showered with gifts and positions.
Like many spouses and children of our politicians, Hunter Biden made a fortune as a lobbyist in Washington. That common path for children continues to raise troubling questions of influence peddling and corruption for our leaders as discussed in this earlier column. The company recently added Devon Archer, a wealthy investor and Democratic campaign bundler. Archer previously declared how his business deals at Rosemont Seneca rely on a “relationship network creat[ing] opportunities for our portfolio companies which then compound to greater outcomes for all parties.” That “relationship network” is precisely what many have objected to in the hiring of family members tied to our leaders — allowing companies to give millions legally to families of Democratic and Republican leaders.
In addition to his position as counsel with the firm, Biden is a co-founder and a managing partner of investment advisory company Rosemont Seneca Partners and serves as director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a network of 400 businesses. He is also the chairman of the advisory board for the National Democratic Institute, a non-profit that works to support democratic institutions and elections around the world. Even with this experience, I am rather skeptical. First, his selection as counsel to Boies, Schiller, Flexner, LLP, seems designed to create a tie to his father and the Administration. He was was chief executive officer, and later chairman, of hedge fund PARADIGM Global Advisors – an association that he co-founded with convicted financier Allen Stanford. He was later appointed by Bill Clinton to serve in the United States Department of Commerce under Secretaries Norman Mineta and William M. Daley. He was then nominated by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of Amtrak. It is a resume that many would envy but also one that reflects the type of opportunities that are often afforded children of our ruling elite.
Of course, the selection of a Bush for such a position in the prior administration would have had Democrats and liberals in an uproar but they are again largely silent in the face of another deal benefitting one of our ruling elite. Obviously, Hunter Biden is an adult and does not need the approval of his father to accept a position, though his father has had an obvious impact on his past opportunities. It is simply worth noting that while we rightfully criticize the Chinese for the “Red Nobility,” we have a long list of children and spouses receiving millions in cushy deals and positions in this country. However, in the blue state/red state politics fosters by both parties, such issues are quickly brushed aside by those arguing again that the other side is worse or that such ethical questions are merely an effort to smear their side.