Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden has paid more than $2 million in campaign funds to family members, their businesses and employers over the years, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest.
The money came from Biden's failed presidential campaign during the past two years. The largest chunk, $1.8 million, was paid to a company that employs his sister and longtime campaign manager, Valerie Biden Owens, according to campaign disclosure filings viewed by The Washington Times.
Biden also gave campaign legal work to a lobbying and law firm co-founded by his son R. Hunter Biden, the filings reveal.
Paying family members and their companies is legal if the work is legitimate and charged at market rates, according to the Federal Election Commission. But public watchdog groups have been critical of such arrangements.
"Even though legal within restraints, it's not something I view as completely ethical," Craig Holman, legislative director for the campaign finance watchdog group Public Citizen, told The Times. "Any candidate ought to shy away from that."
Biden aides say all the payments he has made to family members or their employers were legitimate, and spokesman David Wade told The Times that no Biden family members are being paid by the Obama-Biden campaign.
The $1.8 million paid to his sister’s firm, Joe Slade White & Co., was for media consulting, and much of the money went to produce and air political ads.
Other Biden campaign and political action committee expenditures over the years included more than $50,000 in salary to his sister, and more than $150,000 to Hunter Biden’s Washington lobbying firm Oldaker, Biden & Belair.
Wade asserted that none of the money went to Hunter.
Hunter and Joe Biden’s brother James were accused in two lawsuits of defrauding a former business partner and an investor of millions of dollars in a hedge fund deal that went bad, The Washington Post reported in August.
Hunter and James countered that the former partner defrauded them by misrepresenting his experience in the hedge fund industry and recommending that they hire a lawyer with felony convictions.
Hunter Biden announced in September that he had quit working as a federal lobbyist, amid concerns that his work undermined Barack Obama’s anti-lobbyist rhetoric, the Times noted.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington analyzed campaign filings covering the 2002, 2004 and 2006 election cycles, and its report listed Joe Biden among the top five senators in terms of salaries and fees paid to family members.
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