Obama’s ethics chief criticized the White House for Hunter Biden’s art sales, saying buyers could use them to gain influence with his father

  • Obama’s White House ethics chief Walter Shaub addressed Hunter Biden’s art sales.
  • He described them as a “potential vehicle for channeling money to the first family” in return for influence.

Walter Shaub, who was ethics chief in Barack Obama’s administration, criticized President Joe Biden’s White House for dismissing questions about Hunter Biden’s lucrative art sales.

President’s son Hunter Biden comes under scrutiny for selling his paintings between $ 75,000 and $ 500,000 each in a private gallery in New York. Biden is not known as an artist and is not to critical acclaim, prompting questions about the high price tags.

The White House has made an unusual deal with the gallery, whereby Hunter Biden is protected by the gallery from knowing the identity of the buyers. The idea is that the arrangement will prevent buyers from using their purchases to gain influence with the White House.

Shaub, who was the head of Obama’s government ethics office, argued the arrangement was ineffective because there are loopholes through which Hunter Biden could become aware of the identity of buyers.

He also said that because the identity of the buyers was not made public, it protected sales from scrutiny, further blurring the transparency of the deal.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed a reporter’s questions about the arrangement, saying “there’s a lot going on in the world” so that she was trying to change the subject.

Shaub disputed the response in a long series of tweets.

“These are legitimate questions. It’s disappointing to hear [Psaki] send a message that the WH believes the public has no right to ask about ethics, ”he said.

“After the past 4 years, these issues have never been more important,” he said, referring to the administration of former President Donald Trump. “I know it’s not a popular opinion, but that stuff matters.”

He said there were serious flaws in the arrangement, and “no ethics program in the world that can be built around head of state staff working with a dealership to keep the public in it. ignorance of the identity of individuals who pay huge sums to the leader’s family member for subjectively priced items of no intrinsic value. ”

Walter Shaub.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Shaub went on to allege double standards at Biden’s White House, underscoring Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to end looming corruption allegations. the Trump White House.

“If it were Trump, Xi or Putin, you would have no doubt that this creates a way to funnel money to the first family in exchange for access or favors,” Shaub wrote, referring to Chinese and Russian Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

“It doesn’t matter that Trump was worse. What matters is that it sets the bar for ethics down. It embraces the mentality that ‘if it’s legal, it’s okay to do it. “”

The White House, Hunter Biden’s attorney, and the Hunter Biden gallery did not immediately comment on Insider’s request to comment on Shaub’s remarks.

Hunter Biden has long been the subject of criticism, especially from Republicans, for apparently seeking to take advantage of his father’s political status with his work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma and his lobbying work in China.

Last month Insider Mattathias Schwartz reported that Hunter Biden asked for $ 2 million to help free up assets in Libya frozen by the Obama administration, of which his father was vice president.

His drug addiction and business connections were also the subject of controversy during the 2020 presidential campaign, with material reportedly sourced from an abandoned laptop were published by the New York Post.

Biden said he started painting to overcome his addiction and other issues in his personal life.

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