Biden on ethics: It will be different this time

The Washington Post has an amusing story about the ethics rules the Biden administration may implement. According to the Post, “Biden is preparing to step back into the Oval Office with radically different expectations about how he will handle the relationship between his official power and his family’s private interests.”

Different than what? Than this, for example:

The last time Joe Biden worked in the White House, his son-in-law, Howard Krein, mentioned that executives from his health-care start-up firm would be visiting Washington. The vice president promptly arranged a meeting between the group, which included Krein’s brother, Steven, and President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

“He knew about StartUp Health and was a big fan of it,” Howard Krein, the husband of Biden’s daughter Ashley, told the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2015. “He asked for Steve’s number and said, ‘I have to get them up here to talk with Barack.’”

And different, supposedly, than anything Hunter Biden was involved with.

This time, says Biden, “My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict.” (Emphasis added)

That’s easy for Biden to say now. He and his family have already enriched themselves beyond their wildest dream by trading off of Joe’s influence and position as vice president.

But you never know. A guy like Hunter Biden will always want to eat. So many strip club VIP lounges, so little time.

If Hunter violated federal law — and he is under investigation for doing just that — I doubt he would be deterred by the letter of his father’s ethics rules.

The Post’s article takes a self-referential turn near the end when it quotes slippery Richard Painter:

During the administration of George W. Bush, White House lawyers used to refer to the “Washington Post test,” which asked, “Did the behavior in question risk a front-page story in the newspaper?”

But Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer for Bush, said the question has shifted as media consumption habits have become more partisan. The question now, he said, has a lower bar: Does the Biden administration want to risk a 10-minute segment on a conservative outlet like Fox News, which may have a different standard for running a story?

(Emphasis added)

Painter is right about this much: The Washington Post test won’t suffice in a Biden administration. There is almost no behavior unethical enough for the Post to report if it involves a favored Democrat.

The article concludes on a comical note:

Norm Eisen, who served as the special assistant to Obama for ethics and government reform, said Biden should be given the time and space to work out how he structures the new family barriers.

“Having personally worked with him, I also know him to be individually of the utmost personal integrity,” Eisen said. “So I take him at his word when he says he will make sure there is an appropriate distance between family members and the government.”

Tony Bobulinski could not be reached for comment.

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