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Tags: joe biden | ethics reporting | vacations | donors | transparency

Biden Leaves Free Vacation Stays Off Ethics Forms

By    |   Friday, 17 May 2024 09:04 AM EDT

President Joe Biden omitted his free vacation stays at the homes of wealthy supporters from annual ethics forms that were disclosed to the public this week, in violation of a 40-year-old federal transparency rule.

The failure to note the four vacations in 2023 came just days after ProPublica received a Pulitzer Prize for its investigative reporting series on Supreme Court justices receiving gifts and free travel for years.

Under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, federal officeholders must list gifts in annual financial disclosure reports. According to the documents, Biden did not list any of the stays on the forms he signed.

"If there's a deliberate omission of a gift, an intentional lie, that can very well be prosecuted as a criminal offense," Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, told the New York Post.

"It just seems to me to be stupid to leave it off the form because everyone knows about [presidential] trips and everyone's going to ask who paid," added Painter. "So you either have to pay for the house, make sure the owner is present, or put it on the form. Those are your three options."

The Biden family rang in 2023 with a free stay at the St. Croix home of Bill and Connie Neville, ending the year with another free stay at the beachfront property, which is usually listed as a VRBO rental.

Bill Neville is the founder of software company US Viking, which makes ENPS, a news production software system that is sold by The Associated Press.

Biden also spent six days over Thanksgiving last year at billionaire hedge fund founder David Rubenstein's property on Nantucket and nine days in August at billionaire climate investor Tom Steyer's waterfront retreat on Lake Tahoe in Nevada.

The Post reported that the trip to Rubenstein's home is believed to have been unpaid but neither party has confirmed that is the case.

While the White House initially said Biden would pay "fair market value" for the use of Steyer's home, a local investigation revealed that Steyer did not have a rental permit. The probe was quickly dropped, however, and the alleged rental terms have never been revealed.

The property owners are not believed to have been present for any of the four trips Biden took in 2023.

Leaving gifts off the ethics forms deliberately could make Biden or his staff criminally liable for making false statements, Painter told the Post.

"If somebody told the White House Counsel's Office, which prepares the gift schedule, 'That doesn't need to go on there because the president paid for the trip' and then the White House Counsel's Office relies on that in drafting the … gift schedule, it is then given to the president and the president signs — whoever it was told the White House Counsel's Office that doesn't need to go on there because the president paid for the trip, if that person knew that was not true and knowingly told a lie to the White House Counsel's Office, whoever that person is, they violated 18 United States Code 1001, the false statements statute," Painter said of the stay at Steyer's home.

"If [Biden] knew the gift schedule was incomplete and someone told him, he would have the same liability," he added.

Under 18 U.S. Code § 1001, such a crime would be punishable by up to five years in prison.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., told the Post that Congress needs to step in and increase the consequences for failing to report gifts.

"The radical left's silence on President Biden's many ethics issues is deafening," Comer said. "From President Biden's involvement in his family's influence peddling schemes, all the 'loans' the Bidens received from Democrat donors, to President Biden's free vacation stays at his donors' homes, it's clear we need to reform federal ethics laws to provide greater transparency to the American people."

Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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President Joe Biden omitted his free vacation stays at the homes of wealthy supporters from annual ethics forms that were disclosed to the public this week, in violation of a 40-year-old federal transparency rule.
joe biden, ethics reporting, vacations, donors, transparency
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2024-04-17
Friday, 17 May 2024 09:04 AM
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