The office of Vice President of the United States has long been seen as something of a figurehead position, if not the butt of jokes. It is frequently related to the need to attend weddings and funerals, when it’s not being compared to a bucket of warm spit. Small wonder, then, if the holders of this esteemed position look for other ways to occupy their time. In the case of Joe Biden, he seems to be taking an interest in being a landlord. Nothing wrong with that! But it is rather curious that he’s renting out some of his property to the Secret Service, with the bill being footed by the taxpayers.
The U.S. Secret Service does more than protect Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — the agency also pays him rent.
Since April, Mr. Biden has collected more than $13,000 from the agency charged with protecting him and his family for use of a rental cottage adjacent to the waterfront home he owns in a Wilmington, Del., suburb.
Mr. Biden, listed not as vice president in federal purchasing documents but as a “vendor,” is eligible for up to $66,000 by the time the government contract expires in the fall of 2013, the records show.
To be clear, here, there is no suggestion being made that the Vice President is engaged in anything illegal. It’s his property and he has the right to rent it out. (And, in fact, was doing so to a private citizen up until last winter. Prior to that his mother lived in the cottage up until her death.) The failure here is just in the optics.
Logistically it makes perfect sense to have the agents as close as possible to Biden and his family for security purposes. In fact, it was the Secret Service who approached Biden this year to ask about renting the property when it became available. (Though, to be fair, he did offer it to them first a year earlier, but they declined at that time.) It is also apparently a normal expenditure for the Secret Service to rent property to be used by their agents.
The story just gets a bit strange when the landlord is also the protected subject and a public servant is collecting rent being funded by the taxpayers. Should Biden have just offered to let them stay there for free? It might have been smart politics, but poor business. Again… it’s his rental property and there’s nothing preventing him from drawing some income on it.
Just file this one away under the “news of the weird” category.