Obama's former ethics chief on Hunter Biden's art sales: It's "shameful and grifty"

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

Walter Shaub, the former Office of Government Ethics director in the Obama administration, said the quiet part out loud. Hunter Biden’s latest money-making venture is shameful and has a “grifty feeling to it,” he told Fox News. You can imagine the blowback he is receiving for not only criticizing Hunter’s exploitation of his father’s position and name but also for having the nerve to speak with Fox. The horror.

Let’s review. Hunter Biden has a long history of grifting off his old man’s name and political career. He was a hedge fund manager who moved into passing as an expert in East European natural gas. That ruse brought about some big bucks in the way of a monthly salary for sitting on Burisma’s board. Hunter didn’t travel for board meetings and doesn’t speak Ukrainian or have any work history in the energy sector but why do you question his position? Just move along. The “Big Guy”, as Hunter references his father in emails found on his laptop, gets a 10% cut of Hunter’s wheeling and dealing, you know. Joe even let Hunter travel to China with him on Air Force Two. While there, Hunter checked out some business deals for himself – all without the old man’s knowledge, wink, wink. It’s good to be Hunter when it comes to making a buck.

Hunter’s newest professional adventure is as an artist. He’s in recovery from drug addiction and uses art as therapy, a coping mechanism to express himself. That’s fine, lots of people do that. However, lots of people aren’t the president’s son. Hunter has an art dealer, Georges Berges. Berges values Hunter’s artwork at $75,000 to $500,000. The clincher? All sales will be kept confidential. What could go wrong?

According to Shaub, there is plenty wrong with this obvious grift. Obviously, Hunter’s work is over-priced but there are also opportunities for corruption in keeping his customers anonymous. Red flags have been raised, even for a Democrat like Shaub. Shaub got in a shot at Biden’s predecessor while pointing out the folly of Hunter’s art sales because of course, he did.

“The notion of a president’s son capitalizing on that relationship by selling art at obviously inflated prices and keeping the public in the dark about who’s funneling money to him has a shameful and grifty feel to it,” Shaub told Fox News on Monday.

Shaub also warned that the anonymity granted to Hunter’s clients could allow “influence-seekers” to funnel money to the Biden family.

“Just as hotel charges and real estate purchases created a risk of unknown parties funneling money to the Trump family for potentially unsavory purposes, Hunter Biden’s grotesquely inflated art prices create a similar risk of influence-seekers funneling money to the Biden family,” Shaub said.

There is a history with Biden’s brother and son using the family name and their proximity to Joe for financial gain. During the Obama administration, Joe was advised that his brother and son were crossing ethical lines but the Big Guy has a habit of feigning ignorance and lets it go. Shaub rightly says that the identity of Hunter’s customers should be disclosed so that the American public can see if they are trying to buy government access. He adds that the “public should not have to take it on blind faith that government officials will behave” regardless if “any attempt to curry favor or buy influence is likely to succeed.” Because we know that not all government officials are abiding by ethical and professional standards, right?

“But I also think it’s ridiculous that Hunter Biden is even going forward with this sale as a first-time artist,” Shaub continued. “He can’t possibly think anyone is paying him based on the quality of the art. This smells like an attempt to cash in on a family connection to the White House.”

“At a minimum, the president should be asking his son not to go through with this auction,” Shaub added.

What jumps out about this story is the sheer brazenness of Hunter Biden. He doesn’t even attempt to hide his grift. He’s empowered by corporate media who pretend he is a talented artist and such prices are perfectly normal. An agency representing Berges, The Townsend Group (no relation) defends the anonymous customers.

“Pricing fine art in his experiences as a Gallerist is based on the demand of the work as well and the intrinsic value of it,” the agency told Fox Business. “His feeling is that within each piece – as with every artist, sales are always confidential to protect the privacy of the collector, this is standard practice for transactions in galleries as well as auction houses.”

Shaub has criticized the Biden administration for hiring family members of administration officials. Remember when it was unethical to do that during the Trump administration? Biden promised that none of his family members would receive government jobs, a shot at Trump’s daughter and son-in-law who worked in the White House as advisers, without taking salaries. Trump also forewent his salary, donating it each quarter. Joe Biden takes his salary despite becoming a multi-millionaire during more than 4 decades in elected office.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the Biden administration hiring the family members of some of the president’s top aides, including her sister, Chief of Staff Ron Klain’s wife and White House counselor Steve Ricchetti’s two sons and daughter.

Psaki was asked at the Monday briefing what safeguards the White House has in place to prevent preferential hiring of family members.

‘We have the highest ethical standards of any administration in history,’ Psaki replied. ‘A number of ethics officials have conveyed that and we’re proud of that. We have also staffed up at an unprecedented pace and this is the most diverse administration in American history.’

‘So we certainly expect that everyone will abide by those high ethics standards that applies in how we operate and that also applies in how hiring is done,’ she added.

While President Joe Biden promised that none of his family members would receive government jobs, that hasn’t extended to his top tier of advisers, whose children and other family members have gotten administration gigs.

At least five children of his top aides have gotten jobs, according to a report Friday in The Washington Post.

Relatives of other aides – including Chief of Staff Ron Klain’s wife and press secretary Jen Psaki’s sister – have also secured high-level administration jobs or nominations.

White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed and presidential personnel office director Cathy Russell each have at least one direct family member working for the Biden administration.

I’m sure everything is fine. It was just wrong when the bad Orange Man’s administration hired family members, right? I’ll end with Shaub’s tweet that is brutally honest. It’s perfect.