White House draws criticism for ethics plan made for Hunter Biden’s paintings

Politics

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden’s first son, Hunter Biden, is expected to sell his artwork at a New York art gallery, but ethics experts are raising concerns about a reported agreement involving the White House that’ll keep buyers anonymous.

“The WH has outsourced government ethics to a private art dealer,” Walter Shaub, the former Office of Government Ethics Director under Obama, wrote in a tweet.

Hunter Biden’s paintings are for sale at the Georges Bergès Gallery in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. Its website touts the artist as someone who “brings a myriad of experiences creating powerful and impactful pieces.”

The White House quickly devised a plan to avoid ethical pitfalls, which would shield the identities of those who bid on the president’s son’s artwork, The Washington Post first reported Thursday. It would also involve a degree of separation designed as a firewall to undue influence.

The plan, which immediately raised the ire of Shaub, former President Obama’s ethics chief, who resigned during the Trump Administration.

He said if that is the plan it’s the wrong one, tweeting, “So instead of disclosing who is paying outrageous sums for Hunter Biden’s artwork so that we could monitor whether the purchasers are gaining access to government, the WH tried to make sure we will never know who they are. That’s very disappointing.”

Shaub also said he thinks that Biden and his art dealer, Georges Bergès, “should disclose the identity of the purchasers” so the public can see if the buyers try to “gain access to [the] government.”

He also said 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.”

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.

Bergès previously said that Hunter Biden’s artwork ranges in value from $75,000 up to $500,000 for some of his larger paintings. He also says he’ll reject suspiciously high offers.

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