Joe Biden: Landlord to the Secret Service?

posted at 11:21 am on August 1, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

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.

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C’mon, this is so minor it’s embarrassing…he rented it before, he is renting it now.
Unless the rent is way out of line, it’s a smart move.
Slow news day I suppose…

right2bright on August 1, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I say if he wants to charge the Secret Service rent we charge him for security services.

NotCoach on August 1, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Sacrafice for thee but not for me…. Perhaps he could have negotiated a Section 8 rental price..

kringeesmom on August 1, 2011 at 11:27 AM

In the Navy we used to have a standard phrase used in any kind of ethics instruction or directive. I believe it went something like this:

“If a conflict of interests exists, or even the appearance of a conflict of interests exists….”

What he’s doing is a no-no to me and most Americans. To the Beltway crowd it’s bidness as usual and screw what the public thinks.

TugboatPhil on August 1, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Jazz again? Who is sick or on vacation now?

TheQuestion on August 1, 2011 at 11:29 AM

I hope he’s giving them a risking-your-life-for-me discount.

Tony737 on August 1, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Anything connected to Biden has a stench. This is just more “stink by association”.

Extrafishy on August 1, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Yeah, because we would have all laughed it off if Cheney were renting to a government agency. No biggie, right?

Sugar Land on August 1, 2011 at 11:30 AM

He should charge them rent because of loss of use of the property.

As VP, he is owed our protection.

Vince on August 1, 2011 at 11:31 AM

What’s the problem?
They want to rent a house…they pay for it.
I don’t understand why they need to live right next to him to protect him, but hey…they probably know what they’re doing.

bridgetown on August 1, 2011 at 11:31 AM

C’mon, this is so minor it’s embarrassing…he rented it before, he is renting it now.
Unless the rent is way out of line, it’s a smart move.
Slow news day I suppose…

right2bright on August 1, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Actually his mother was living in the house until she died in January of 2010. If he rented it after that it certainly wasn’t for very long.

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2011 at 11:31 AM

This subject warrants space on The Blog? C’mon.

NoNails on August 1, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Jazz again? Who is sick or on vacation now?

TheQuestion on August 1, 2011 at 11:29 AM

The more, the merrier.

Vince on August 1, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Jazz again? Who is sick or on vacation now?

TheQuestion on August 1, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Maybe AP finally got that gossip colum at the NYT he has always dreamed about.

NotCoach on August 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM

$13000 since April?? $3250 a month for a cottage? What a deal/

lakeman on August 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM

C’mon, the guy’s not doing anything immoral or illegal like flying a corporate jet or buying a Happy Meal.

saint kansas on August 1, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Slow day in the Groan Room? Oh, wait, Jazz is one of the official HA blog entities now.

I would have remembered if he had started a paragraph with the obligatory “In fairness….”

MrScribbler on August 1, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Questions:
1. Did Biden charge his mother rent?
2. If Biden is a public servant, wouldn’t it stand to reason, especially in a time of financial govt crisis, that he be a generous servant & provide the lodgings for his paid security force for free, since it is so convenient?
I would think such a dedicated servant, who clearly lives a good living off of those he so proudly serves, would leap at the chance to be charitable.
3. Why is every public servant seemingly involved in such things?

Badger40 on August 1, 2011 at 11:35 AM

OT but good news-

Grover Norquist says the debt ceiling deal has his blessing.

Norquist, who heads the powerful anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, tells Newsmax that congressional members who signed his group’s “pledge” promising never to vote for a tax increase can vote for this deal.

“The deal proved that we can cut spending without trading away tax hikes,” Norquist says.

He adds that the deal is no passing congressional fad, but a milestone in Capitol Hill thinking about spending and taxes.

“The deal set a new precedent: Never again will the debt ceiling be raised without a similarly sized spending cut being attached,” he tells Newsmax.

The big loser in the deal?

Norquist declares unequivocally that Obama wins that title.

“Obama’s internal polling must scare the heck out of him,” Norquist says. “He caved on the key Republican demands: no tax hike, spending cuts equal to the debt ceiling increase.”

VegasRick on August 1, 2011 at 11:35 AM

This is for secret service protection at his Delaware residence…..doesn’t the nation already provide him a residence in DC?

cthulhu on August 1, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Hahaha… Joe Biden, Capitalist

petefrt on August 1, 2011 at 11:37 AM

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.

He’s got more money than he needs and the Republicans won’t raise his taxes, so the least he can do is let the Secret Service protect him for no charge.

cartooner on August 1, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Who cares. This is a non-issue. It is not out of the ordinary for the SS to rent property to protect their charges.

If it were VP Palin, no one here would have an issue with it.

Plugs provides plenty of opportunity to criticize his idiocy. This isn’t one of them.

KeepOhioRed on August 1, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Joe Biden has now officially come to the place where his entire existence is now a virtual continual 24/7/365 Saturday Night Live skit……minus the punchline.

pilamaye on August 1, 2011 at 11:38 AM

He’s got more money than he needs and the Republicans won’t raise his taxes, so the least he can do is let the Secret Service protect him for no charge.

cartooner on August 1, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Redistributing the assets.
But of course, those rules don’t apply to the overseers.

Badger40 on August 1, 2011 at 11:40 AM

$13000 since April?? $3250 a month for a cottage? What a deal/

lakeman on August 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM

We can just be glad he didn’t set the rate for $13,000/month. Since his mother lived in it up till last year, all he had to do was rent to a supporter for a high rate to establish the baseline, then turn around and rent it to the SS at the “established” rate. Smart bidness, dumb optics, but that’s DC for us.

AH_C on August 1, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Not a big deal, but if I was a member of the board of directors of a company AND I rented property back to that company, I’d be accused of a conflict of interest. But, of course, I’m not a Democrat…

rcpjr on August 1, 2011 at 11:42 AM

When I worked at the White House – the Secret Service rented a very large home adjacent to President George H.W. Bush’s holiday home in Kennibunkport, MN.

There had been a family living it. Secret Service said “name your price”. I don’t remember how much it was – but it was outrageous. The deal also requred that the owners give Secret Service permission to “modify” the house to suit their needs – however, the agreement also included a statement that Secret Service would REVERSE the modifications free of charge and the owners had the option to KEEP any modification the Secret Service performed on the structural aspects of the house.

This is the way the White House works sportsfans – no regard for money – and that was a REPUBLICAN administration. Yet – heh … we can’t seem to cut any waste out of this budget.

Crazy.

HondaV65 on August 1, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Joe Biden (D): Eh. No big deal.

Joe Biden (R): OMG!! Shyster!! Hypocrite!! Capitalist!!!

portlandon on August 1, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Not a big deal, but if I was a member of the board of directors of a company AND I rented property back to that company, I’d be accused of a conflict of interest. But, of course, I’m not a Democrat…

rcpjr on August 1, 2011 at 11:42 AM

This really isn’t an issue that anyone wants to address – trust me. If you pull this string – you’ll find GOP politicians who’ve done the same thing.

When SS sets up a security zone – they are going to put it in the most advantageous place they can find. Who owns the property means nothing to them – they will pay any price the owner asks to use it.

Looking at what Joe Biden’s charging – it’s not much compared to the others I’ve seen.

HondaV65 on August 1, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Democrat Lawyer/politician, what do you expect?

NORUK on August 1, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Carney coming up.

Let the carnival display its glory.

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2011 at 11:54 AM

I don’t see a problem with this. It’s his property to rent or not rent as he sees fit. The Secret Service would need to stay somewhere, and there’s no reason to expect the VP to forgo income from a property he owns and must maintain.

I’m curious, is the Secret Service allowed to accept free lodging as a gift? That’d be a conflict of interest under some circumstances.

GalosGann on August 1, 2011 at 11:55 AM

The first government bill not to be paid in a shutdown scenario.

michaelo on August 1, 2011 at 11:57 AM

So we are paying rent on a cottage for the secret service(who we pay) to protect another person (who we pay) and he benefits from the rental income?

Be sure to claim that rental income on your taxes Joe…I would hate for the back of your hand to be slapped as hard as Charlie’s was. Lord knows that had to hurt!

milwife88 on August 1, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Guys, this is small potatoes. $66k for 3 years of occupancy (1/2011 to 12/2013) works out to $1833.33 per month. My guess is Biden is probably just getting reimbursed for property taxes, insurance, and whatever mortgage may be on the property. And, Biden has to pay taxes on that rental income, so Uncle Sam at least recoups some of the money that way.

Biden definitely has his ethics problems (being that he’s a serial plagiarist), but he’s never been accused of financial impropriety and I see no evidence of it here.

Outlander on August 1, 2011 at 11:59 AM

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.

Perfect example how lefties “are for the people”.

The fools are waiting for the next American Idol, or Dancing with the stars, or some such.

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Secret Service tweet: The rent is too damn high

/s

TN Mom on August 1, 2011 at 12:01 PM

VegasRick on August 1, 2011 at 11:35 AM

This O/T is as funny as the main post! “Good news?”

I guess if you like it that the government promises to use anesthesia to rip your lungs out instead of just going in unprepared with a knife, it’s good news….

MrScribbler on August 1, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Is the SS using the cottage for official business?

If yes, then there is no issue at all.

BobMbx on August 1, 2011 at 12:02 PM

When Ford built his place in Beaver Creek, CO (Vail Valley), he built a guesthouse for the Service at HIS expense. Also, their slopeside “on-duty” shack and another facility for vehicles. He wasn’t recompensed for any rents.

Ford also picked up the tab for a lot of services that the agents used, from lift tickets to dinners, to nights out for the agent’s & families.

It would have been beyond the Ford’s comprehension to ask for reimbursements or rents for this. The Ford’s had a great respect for the agents and Service; this bunch . . . not so much.

Jason Coleman on August 1, 2011 at 12:02 PM

This is a silly thing to make an issue out of which is why I’m glad to see that most people here don’t consider it an issue.

On the lighter side, I wonder what VP Biden would do if the Secret Service stopped paying the rent. Are you really going to evict someone one day and expect them to take a bullet for you the next?

JadeNYU on August 1, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Odds are Biden is in violation of the suburb’s zoning ordinances in running a boarding house. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also violating an ordinance on the number of unrelated people living there.

There’s a chance, it’s arguable, that it is also violating an ordinance on using residential commercial property by a business entity for business purposes.

I have little doubt he went to the local planning commission to get variances for this use. Laws are for little people.

Dusty on August 1, 2011 at 12:03 PM

As best I recall, the Secret Service had to do something similar at President George W. Bush’s ranch in Texas. It was so remote that there was nothing else. That’s why Sheehan and her smelly posse were camping on a gravel road and dumping in the ditch.

I don’t recall the details, whether they paid something to the President, or perhaps they even had to construct it. Anyone recall?

Agreed though, this is not that big a deal.

slickwillie2001 on August 1, 2011 at 12:07 PM

Quote without comment:

The Hay Barn is located on a hill above the Ranch adobe and adjacent to the Secret Service Building. This barn housed ranch equipment and feed for the ranch livestock. During the presidential years, Ronald Reagan designated the barn for use by the Secret Service and their federally-owned horses. The hay stored there was separated into federal feed storage and Reagan feed storage. Reagan was always careful to personally pay for the feeding and upkeep of his own horses.

http://www.yaf.org/VirtualTour.aspx

Owen Glendower on August 1, 2011 at 12:07 PM

So let’s get this straight. We are paying twice for Biden’s security detail? The agents get perdiem while the gobermint pays Biden for use of space. I wish they would just walk off the job and let Biden fend for himself.

kens on August 1, 2011 at 12:11 PM

This is for secret service protection at his Delaware residence…..doesn’t the nation already provide him a residence in DC?

They do but I dont think he ever moved into that residence.

Rich on August 1, 2011 at 12:16 PM

I posted this in the Headline article about the rental deal:

I would like to charge Mr. Biden’s boss rent for living in the White House.

radjah shelduck on August 1, 2011 at 9:06 AM

I wouln’t charge the Secret Service rent to stand between me and a bullet.

As a kid, my sister was missing and thought kidnapped. My parents did not charge the FBI to use our home as a base of operation. Luckily it was a false alarm. I was in awe of those dedicated men.

We were so naive. Those guys were using our phone for free.
entagor on August 1, 2011 at 11:51 AM

entagor on August 1, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Liberals care so much (about themselves)

yubley on August 1, 2011 at 12:17 PM

There are other beefs that are legit. For once this deal is completely transparent, and the fee is reasonable.
I think the weird part is that it actually appears to be on the up and up. Maybe we should investigate that?

paulsur on August 1, 2011 at 12:18 PM

I’d rather the SS had rented a house from an owner down the road or some real estate investor who had a nearby property available, just to help out the local economy but, if in their judgement this location and property was better for them in the carrying out of their primary mission, the protection of Bite Me, then I say no harm, no foul.

TXUS on August 1, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Didn’t the Clintons conveniently rent space to the secret service at their home for the same amount as their mortgage? What a great deal!

bopbottle on August 1, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Yeah, because we would have all laughed it off if Cheney were renting to a government agency. No biggie, right?

Sugar Land on August 1, 2011 at 11:30 AM

This. The continual hypocrisy of the media and their complete control in framing their slanted and biased narrative is almost more frightening than the current president, Pelosi, Reid, Durbin, etc…

Fallon on August 1, 2011 at 12:37 PM

It’s kind of a neutral area for me–it would look better if he wasn’t charging them or was charging a reduced rate, but since it’s not illegal I’m not going to raise a stink. However…

If it were VP Palin, no one here would have an issue with it…

KeepOhioRed on August 1, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Nossir. The issue is not whether *we* would have any problems with it. You know that if the VP’s first name was Sarah and the last name was Palin, the lame stream media and the entire liberal left would be having a freaking cow about it and would be demanding she step down immediately for such a breach. Even if it was legal and she had the blessings of the Dali Lama himself. (I’d say the Pope but he doesn’t hold much water with the left.)

theotherone on August 1, 2011 at 12:40 PM

I guess we are sort of renting Biden. 4 Year lease with an option to extend.

percysunshine on August 1, 2011 at 12:48 PM

No worries – I hear he’s charging them the same rent he charged his mother.

BrunoMitchell on August 1, 2011 at 12:48 PM

It’s a three-letter word: R-E-N-T.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on August 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on August 1, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Probably not a big deal, but oh yeah, if Palin or Cheney did it we’d never hear the end of it. Palin couldn’t even go out of state or receive a flower bouquet without incurring someone’s wrath.

I’ve spent time near Cheney’s house in Wyoming, so I know the USSS set-up he had there. He doesn’t have a cottage to rent, and IIRC there was a trailer or portable building set up nearby. They also built two tiny guardshacks on the golf course, and when the VP was in residence, they used an RV to set up a checkpoint on his street. Also, when he was there, many of the neighborhood condos and offices were rented out to USSS.

So I expect the USSS was pang for all of that, but the Cheneys weren’t getting rent $ from them, as far as I could tell.

juliesa on August 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM

It might have been smart politics, but poor business.

Joey ain’t known for being smart.

BTW, where’s the ‘shared sacrifice’?

GarandFan on August 1, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Didn’t the Clintons conveniently rent space to the secret service at their home for the same amount as their mortgage? What a great deal!

bopbottle on August 1, 2011 at 12:34 PM

They took tax deductions for donating used underwear. What do you think they would do?

SKYFOX on August 1, 2011 at 1:25 PM

It’s his place, he can do what he wants with it, including renting it out to the gubmint.

May not look Kosher, but it’s fair game as far as I can tell.

1IDVET on August 1, 2011 at 1:31 PM

The Clintons did it, and I believe they still do…

Gohawgs on August 1, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Didn’t President Bush build a house for the Secret Service on his own cost on his property? I thought I remember hearing that way back when he first started going there.

JeffinSac on August 1, 2011 at 1:49 PM

I don’t care for Biden, but I am going to say non-story on this. As a landlord he needs to cover his interests and a contractual agreement will stipulate the terms. Having them stay free would have made it hard to contract terms. But, to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest he should have refused their request.

chrisknits on August 1, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Jason wrote
“It would have been beyond the Ford’s comprehension to ask for reimbursements or rents for this. The Ford’s had a great respect for the agents and Service”

My cousin was a SS agent with Ford. He moved to California when Ford left office and stayed with him for many years. He greatly admired Ford and went back for his funeral.

chrisknits on August 1, 2011 at 2:00 PM

One should look at the article’s numbers. It seems a bit incongruous that, as the President he serves decries “corporate jets” and declares his own taxes too low because he personally makes more money than he needs, Biden squeezed the taxpayers for $11,000 worth of rent last year. According to the IRS, without that income he still would have made $368,000. To look at it from the left’s own beloved class warfare perspective, I daresay Biden is rich and does not “need” that extra income, no?

Blacklake on August 1, 2011 at 2:34 PM

If he is charging “fair market” rent, I have no problem with this…

I read somewhere that the Clintons are charging the SS the entire price of their MORTGAGE in Chappaqua for the “in-law” that the Secret Service uses… THAT is UNSAT…

Khun Joe on August 1, 2011 at 3:43 PM

C’mon, this is so minor it’s embarrassing…he rented it before, he is renting it now.
Unless the rent is way out of line, it’s a smart move.
Slow news day I suppose…

right2bright on August 1, 2011 at 11:26 AM

If the Secret Service agents were having to pay the rent themselves, it would be fair to criticize Biden for not letting them stay rent-free or at least at cost.

But we know that the government is paying for it, not the agents. As long as there’s no fraud, there’s no foul.

tom on August 1, 2011 at 8:18 PM

This is for secret service protection at his Delaware residence…..doesn’t the nation already provide him a residence in DC?

They do but I dont think he ever moved into that residence.

Rich on August 1, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Not true. The Bidens inhabit the Naval National Observatory, the official Washington DC Vice Presidential residence. The facility is staffed with both active duty Naval personnel and civilians performing the usual variety of servants’ duties, including cooking, cleaning, and winding the big atomic clock. I know nothing about their travel habits, so I couldn’t say how much time they spend in the Delaware residence.

Freelancer on August 1, 2011 at 8:24 PM

I’m sure he gave them a ‘deal’, and as long as he declared the income, I’m ok with it. He did declare the income, right?

Kissmygrits on August 1, 2011 at 11:24 PM