In this screen shot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, addresses the virtual convention on Aug. 20, 2020. (DNCC / Getty Images)
By Kipp Jones August 26, 2021 at 4:11pm
The former ethics chief for the Obama administration lashed out at Hunter Biden and the White House for going forward with a plan for the president’s son to sell artwork for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars during his upcoming show in New York.
Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, has previously taken on Hunter Biden’s paintings, noting they might become a way for bribes to be funneled to the Biden family.
There is at least the chance that anonymous buyers of President Joe Biden’s son’s art could lead to accusations of malfeasance, Shaub has argued.
In an interview on Law & Crime’s “Objections” podcast on Wednesday, Shaub again attacked the amateur painter for profiting off of his name — and potentially that of his father.
“I just think that’s absolutely appalling,” Shaub said in reference to reporting that Hunter Biden’s pairings might snag up to $500,000 per piece.
The president’s son has reportedly prepared 15 pieces that will go on sale at art shows from the George Bergès Gallery.
“Now, that’s a criticism of Hunter Biden, and he’s a sympathetic character, who we can feel bad for on many levels,” Shaub said. “But some of his problems are of his own making, in that he has always built his career around being Joe Biden’s son.”
Shaub said with his new career in the arts, Hunter Biden is right back at profiting from the family name.
“If he were a patriot — if he cared about this country — he would not want to tarnish his father’s reputation that way,” he said.
Do you think Hunter Biden’s art career is a cover to sell influence?
“Now we can’t fault him for not being a patriot. We can’t fault him for not caring enough about his father’s legacy to avoid this,” Shaub added.
“That’s a personal failing and he doesn’t technically owe us anything because he’s a citizen and not a government official, but then the White House crossed the line and they got involved in this deal and the art seller was theoretically always planning to keep the names secret, but the White House intervened to ask him to keep the names secret.”
“There is simply no way an artist who has never even juried into a community center art fair is going to suddenly show up in New York selling art for half a million a pop,” Shaub went on. “Let’s talk about the magnitude of this. … That’s $6.5 million going to the president’s son for being the president’s son, not for being an artist, and I just think that’s absolutely appalling.”
The former ethics chief also had words for those who are critical of his demand for accountability and transparency with regard to the Bidens.
“When people think I’m blowing the Hunter Biden thing out of proportion, what they’re missing is that this is all part of a larger concern,” he said. “And it isn’t really about Hunter Biden. It’s about the failure to understand that we need an ethical renaissance in government, or we’re going to find ourselves in an even worse place than we did for the last four years.”
Shaub has been vocally critical of Hunter Biden in recent months.
“We have no way of monitoring whether people are buying access to the White House,” he told The Washington Post in July.
According to the White House, there is no concern that buyers might be purchasing influence and not art because Hunter Biden will not be provided with the identities of those who will bid for his work.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said during her July 22 daily media briefing that the administration has no concerns.
“Wouldn’t it be more transparent to just release the names of the buyers so that everyone would know who purchased this art and how much they paid?” a reporter asked.
“Well, we don’t — we won’t know who the buyers are; Hunter Biden won’t know who the buyers are. So, I think the origin, I think, of this line of questioning, which is understandable, is about whether this would provide a situation for undue influence,” she said. “But we won’t know who they are, so there’s no scenario where they could provide influence.”
Psaki said Hunter Biden, as a private citizen, should be able to pursue his “passions.”