"Hiding the ball": Hunter Biden complicates WH's anti-corruption push

“Little will guard against the possibility that the buyers may be interested in something beyond Hunter’s paintings,” journalist Casey Michel wrote of the arrangement in the Atlantic, “and that they may be willing to pay however much they need for access to the man whose father sits in the Oval Office.”

Clark, meanwhile, described the plan to keep the identities of the buyers secret as “whacko.”

“It leaves, frankly, the Biden administration wide open to concerns that people are going to buy influence by buying Hunter Biden’s paintings at what might be inflated prices,” she said. “The idea of keeping the identity of the buyers secret or the price secret is no way to protect the public interest or ensure public confidence that there isn’t corruption going on. It’s bizarre that that’s the solution that they came upon.”

Fresh concerns about the arrangement arose in late July when CBS News reported that Hunter Biden would, in fact, meet face to face with people interested in purchasing his art, thereby undermining the anonymity of the process.

That development left Jessica Tillipman, a dean at George Washington University’s law school and an anti-corruption expert, incredulous. “Now, he’s privately meeting with potential buyers and quote unquote he’s never going to know [if they then made a purchase] because he’s just outsourced the ethics function to this art dealer, and we’re supposed to just rely on that?” she said.

Tillipman described the White House handling of the matter as “botched.”