Hunter Biden Is More Pregnant Than Bristol

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Pa(b)st Prime, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. By the time this is over Joe Biden will wish his son had been knocked up. Of course someone has to profit from Joe's votes in the Senate.

    Obama Aides Defend Bank’s Pay to Biden Son
    During the years that Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was helping the credit card industry win passage of a law making it harder for consumers to file for bankruptcy protection, his son had a consulting agreement that lasted five years with one of the largest companies pushing for the changes, aides to Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign acknowledged Sunday.

    Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, received consulting fees from the MBNA Corporation from 2001 to 2005 for work on online banking issues. Aides to Mr. Obama, who chose Mr. Biden as his vice-presidential running mate on Saturday, would not say how much the younger Mr. Biden, who works as both a lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, had received, though a company official had once described him as having a $100,000 a year retainer. But Obama aides said he had never lobbied for MBNA and that there was nothing improper about the payments.

    Campaign officials acknowledged that the connection between the Bidens and MBNA, the enormous financial services company then based in their home state of Delaware, was one of the most sensitive issues they examined while vetting the senator for a spot on the ticket.

    Mr. Biden’s support for the bankruptcy changes, which were signed into law in 2005, puts him at odds with Mr. Obama of Illinois, who opposed the bill and has criticized the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, for supporting it. Consumer advocates and other Democratic allies remain sharply critical of Mr. Biden’s actions, saying in recent days that they could hamper the campaign’s efforts to attack the Republicans over their handling of the nation’s credit crisis.

    The financial services industry began seeking relief from Congress in the mid-1990s from an increase in bankruptcies that was cutting into its profits. Its initial support came from Republican lawmakers, who repeatedly introduced bills to make it more difficult for consumers to erase their debts. During that time, executives at MBNA, which was bought in 2006 by Bank of America, began donating heavily to both major political parties and many national politicians, including Mr. Biden.

    In late 1996, the company hired the younger of Mr. Biden’s two sons, Robert Hunter Biden, known as Hunter, who had just graduated from Yale Law School, as a lawyer. The company promoted Mr. Biden to senior vice president by early 1998. And after the younger Mr. Biden worked at the Commerce Department on electronic commerce issues from 1998 to 2001, MBNA hired him back on a monthly consulting contract to advise it on such issues, aides said.

    Consumer advocates say that Senator Biden was one of the first Democratic leaders to support the bankruptcy bill, and he voted for it four times — in 1998, 2000, 2001 and in March 2005, when its final version passed the Senate by a vote of 74 to 25.

    Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer group that opposed the bill, said that Senator Biden had provided a “veneer of bipartisanship” that eventually helped the credit card companies win over other Democrats. “He provided cover to other Democrats to do what the credit industry was urging them to do,” Mr. Plunkett said.

    Aides to the Obama campaign said Sunday that Senator Biden’s goal was always to strike a workable compromise between the competing interests on the bankruptcy bill, and that he was not influenced by his son’s work for MBNA or the campaign donations. They said he had sought several changes in the bill to protect consumers that upset MBNA executives, then the largest employer in Delaware, while acknowledging that he also voted against other amendments proposed by other Democrats.

    Hunter Biden, through his assistant at his law firm, Oldaker Biden & Belair, referred a request for comment to the Obama campaign. James Mahoney, the head of corporate communications for Bank of America, said the consulting arrangement had ended by the time Bank of America took over MBNA in January 2006.

    “Senator Biden has a 35-year record fighting for people against powerful interests, whether it’s drug companies, oil companies or insurance companies,” David Wade, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said in a statement. “He took plenty of knocks from the largest employer in his state because he demanded changes in the bankruptcy bill. But legislating requires compromise. Senators cast tough votes. Congress worked on the bankruptcy bill for nearly a decade, over five Congresses, to forge a bipartisan compromise.”

    Mr. Wade added: “Senator Biden took on entrenched interests and succeeded in improving the bill for low-income workers, women and children. There were times when amendments on both sides would have blown up a bipartisan compromise backed by three-quarters of the Senate. At those moments, Senator Biden had to make the tough calls and voted to pass a bill.”

    Mr. Wade said Senator Biden took extra steps to protect consumers in votes to require people in bankruptcy to continue paying child support or alimony. He also took steps to affirm that the bill exempted debtors who have serious medical problems, are veterans or are in the armed service, the aide said.

    But a review of the legislative record finds as many instances when Mr. Biden joined Republicans to defeat attempts by his Democratic colleagues, including Mr. Obama, to soften the bill’s impact on those same constituencies. He was one of five Democrats in March 2005 who voted against a proposal to require credit card companies to provide more effective warnings to consumers about the consequences of paying only the minimum amount due each month. Mr. Obama voted for it.

    Mr. Biden also went against Mr. Obama to help defeat amendments aimed at strengthening protections for people forced into bankruptcy who have large medical debts or are in the military; Mr. Biden argued that the amendments were unnecessary because the legislation already carved out exemptions for those debtors. And he was one of four Democrats who sided with Republicans to defeat an effort, supported by Mr. Obama, to shift responsibility in certain cases from debtors to the predatory lenders who helped push them into bankruptcy.

    In many of these battles, Mr. Biden’s Democratic colleagues often voiced their frustration with the big financial interests arrayed against them. Senator Paul Wellstone specifically cited MBNA during a floor debate in March 2001 over his call for stronger protections for debtors forced into bankruptcy because of medical bills — an amendment that Mr. Biden would later vote against.

    “It just so happens that the people who find themselves in terrible economic circumstances through no fault of their own — major medical bills, they have lost their jobs, or there has been a divorce — it is my view as a former political scientist and now a senator for the State of Minnesota that those people do not have the same kind of clout that MBNA Corporation has,” Mr. Wellstone said.

    Mr. Biden’s supporters also point out that the Republicans controlled the Senate for much of the time when the bankruptcy bills were under consideration. MBNA employees have given Mr. Biden more than $214,000 in campaign donations over the years, the largest amount in his coffers tied to any single company. But the company’s employees have given even more lavishly to President George W. Bush and top Republican lawmakers.

    Michael Luo contributed reporting.
  2. Obama, Biden's Son Linked By Earmarks

    Aug. 27, 2008
    ( This story was written by James V. Grimaldi and Kimberly Kindy.


    Sen. Barack Obama sought more than $3.4 million in congressional earmarks for clients of the lobbyist son of his Democratic running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, records show. Obama succeeded in getting $192,000 for one of the clients, St. Xavier University in suburban Chicago.

    Obama's campaign has taken a hard stance against the world of lobbying in the nation's capital. Obama said he limits his own efforts to get money for pet projects -- a process known as earmarking -- to those that benefit the public. He has posted his earmark requests on his presidential campaign Web site to encourage transparency.

    Since Obama announced his selection of Biden on Saturday, attention has focused on Biden's lobbying connections as well as his son's lobbying activities. R. Hunter Biden is one of many relatives of members of Congress who work as lobbyists.

    The younger Biden started his career as a lobbyist in 2001 and has registered to represent about 21 clients that have brought in $3.5 million to his Washington firm, according to lobbying disclosure forms.

    Sen. Biden has collected more than $6.9 million in campaign contributions from lobbyists and lawyers since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    A spokesman for the Obama campaign said that Hunter Biden himself has never lobbied his father. Another lobbyist in the firm successfully sought an earmark from the senator for the University of Delaware. But Hunter did not work on the account, the spokesman said.

    Campaign spokesman David Wade also said Hunter Biden never appealed directly to Obama.

    "Hunter Biden met with the Obama Senate office, not with Senator Obama," Wade said. "It's hardly surprising that a Senator from Illinois would fight for investments in Mercy Hospital, Thorek Hospital and St. Xavier University right in Illinois, or that he'd be joined in that effort by a Republican colleague, Representative Judy Biggert."

    Hunter Biden, a 38-year-old Georgetown graduate and Yale-trained lawyer, is a name partner in the firm Oldaker, Biden & Belair, founded by William Oldaker, an election lawyer and lobbyist who worked on Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's 1980 presidential campaign and has been a fundraiser and campaign adviser for Sen. Biden.

    An analysis for The Washington Post by Taxpayers for Common Sense of Hunter Biden's firm's lobbying business found that its clients collected $2.7 million in earmarks in the last fiscal year.

    One of those clients was St. Xavier University, a four-year, 5,600-student institution run by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Mercy in Orland Park, Ill. Steve Murphy, vice president for university advancement, said Hunter Biden approached him in 2005 offering to secure congressional earmarks.

    Hunter Biden and his colleague, Eric Schwerin, told Murphy they were "working with a number of clients, institutions like yours, and we would like to help you identify earmarks, federal support and grants."

    Murphy said he found Biden's parentage a selling point. Murphy then accompanied Biden to the offices of the Illinois delegation, including Obama's.

    Obama requested $1.4 million for St. Xavier, including $900,000 to establish an early-childhood teacher training center "to meet the demand in the southwest Chicago metropolita area," according to a news release on the Web site of Obama's Senate office. Obama requested the early-childhood money in both 2006 and 2007.

    Obama also in June 2007 sought $500,000 for a skills laboratory for St. Xavier's nursing school, which has one of the largest nursing programs in the state.

    In the end, Obama's $1.4 million in requests resulted in $192,000 for the nursing facility.

    Murphy said that a big selling point was the diversity of the nursing students, who often ended up working in communities where nurses were in shortage.

    "Two years ago, we graduated more African American and Hispanic nurses than any private college in the state of Illinois," Murphy said. "I'm not at all apologetic that we asked for federal support for huge health-care needs of this growing community."

    Since Hunter Biden signed St. Xavier as a client in December 2005, the firm has earned $320,000 from the university.

    In 2006, Obama also asked for $2 million for a cancer research treatment center at Chicago's Thorek Memorial Hospital, according to an Obama letter requesting the money posted on Obama's campaign Web site. Hunter Biden was the registered lobbyist and his firm was paid $120,000 for representing Thorek, which has not received funding.

    Obama's spokesman also acknowledged lobbying for Mercy Hospital, another client of Hunter Biden.

    In addition to his work for universities, Hunter Biden has done consulting work for MBNA, the largest employer in Delaware.

    From 2001 to 2005, Hunter was paid an undisclosed amount by the credit card giant, which has since been purchased by Bank of America. It has been widely reported that he received $100,000 a year.

    At the time, Sen. Biden led a successful, high-profile battle in the Senate for a bankruptcy bill that ultimately benefited credit card companies. The law makes it more difficult for people to file for personal bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7.

    "He was a crucial supporter of the law in that he paved the way for other Democrats to support it," said Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Foundation of America, a consumer group that opposed the bill. "Senator Biden provided a lot of political cover for the credit card industry because they wanted to show that the proposal had bipartisan support. He aggressively undermined the opposition to the bill."

    Over the past two decades, MBNA employees have given more than $200,000 to Biden's Senate campaigns, more than workers from any other company.

    Wade said Hunter Biden was hired by MBNA after working as a Commerce Department lawyer on Internet privacy and online commerce issues. "Hunter consulted for five years as an expert on these very same issues at a time of enormous expansion in online banking," Wade said. "He was never a lobbyist for MBNA, and his work had absolutely nothing to do with the bankruptcy bill. Zero. Nothing."

    Hunter Biden also lobbied for Napster, the music-sharing Web site that ran afoul of intellectual-property laws. Sen. Biden at the time was a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees laws governing intellectual-property rights.

    Wade said Hunter Biden is careful not to approach his father when lobbying. Wade said the younger Biden does not share in revenue of other partners, so he does not directly benefit from their activities.

    When he introduced him as his running mate, Obama said of Biden: "He has brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn't changed him." But Republicans quickly attacked Biden's connections to lobbyists.

    "While Barack Obama decries Washington insiders and says that he detests lobbyists, Joe Biden is the model Washington insider with numerous connections to lobbyists and special interests," Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz said.

    Wade defended Biden, saying he has been "as strong a supporter of ethics reform as the Senate has ever known, and his office follows all ethics laws right down to the letter."

    Research editor Alice Crites and database editor Sarah Cohen contributed to this report.

    By James V. Grimaldi and Kimberly Kindy
    © 2008 The Washington Post Company

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