Walter Shaub, who ran the Office of Government Ethics during Barack Obama’s administration, is lashing out again at President Joe Biden over his son’s sales of artwork to anonymous buyers at extravagant prices, which he says is ripe for influence-peddling.
Last week following reports that the administration would allow Hunter Biden to sell his novice artwork to anonymous purchasers with no public disclosure, Shaub said that arrangement was a “perfect mechanism for funneling bribes.”
He also noted in a lengthy Twitter thread that the Biden White House was attempting to “make sure we will never know” who the art buyers are.
“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,” Shaub wrote while linking to a Washington Post report. “That’s very disappointing.”
On Friday, the former ethics chief repeated his earlier criticisms of the shady arrangement.
“He’s not selling under a pseudonym. He’s not waiting until his father is out of office. He’s not selling at any price comparable to what other first-time artists are selling,” Shaub said.
Shaub said initially, White House officials should have pressed the president to discourage Hunter Biden from engaging in the sales or, at least, have the names of people buying his artwork made public so that “any time one of those buyers got a meeting with an administration official … the public could judge whether or not they were getting preferential treatment.”
“The problem is, now they’ve set a precedent for the next president,” Shaub continued. “Even if you happen to trust Joe Biden, what if the next president has the character of a Donald Trump? This would be a perfect mechanism for funneling bribes to that president.”
In a subsequent statement to Fox News, Shaub qualified his comments, saying that while he doesn’t personally believe the president would take a bribe, government ethics can’t be based on “a subjective belief in an individual’s character.”
“The way to build public trust is to have uniform standards that you apply no matter who is in office and recognize that anything a leader does sets a precedent for future administration,” Shaub continued.
“Whether or not White House officials believe that secret payments to the president’s son could lead to buyers receiving preferential treatment in this administration, they can’t vouch for future presidents who haven’t even taken office yet. And you can be sure future presidents will point to this arrangement to justify their own conduct.”
Late last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki justified Hunter Biden’s undisclosed sales, adding that he has a right to earn a living.
“After careful consideration, a system has been established that allows for Hunter Biden to work in his profession within reasonable safeguards,” she said Friday. “Of course, he has the right to pursue an artistic career just like any child of a president has the right to pursue a career.”