Published: July 14, 2021

By Jim Lichtman
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Hunter Biden has a new career: painting and selling his artwork. While that’s good for him, it’s not so good for dad. Big ethics issue.

“‘The whole thing is a really bad idea,” said Richard Painter, who was chief ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007,” The Washington Post reports (July 8).

“‘The initial reaction a lot of people are going to have is that he’s capitalizing on being the son of a president and wants people to give him a lot of money,’ Painter says. ‘I mean, those are awfully high prices.’”

While the Biden administration says that son Hunter is permitted to have a career, (Remember his career with Burisma), Hunter’s new career doesn’t look good from every angle.

Ethicist Walter Shaub, who headed the Office of Government Ethics from 2013 to 2017, has a few problems with it, too.

“Because we don’t know who is paying for this art and we don’t know for sure that [Hunter Biden] knows, we have no way of monitoring whether people are buying access to the White House,” he said “What these people are paying for is Hunter Biden’s last name.”

“After careful consideration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday, a system has been established that allows for Hunter Biden to work in his profession within reasonable safeguards. 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.”

My favorite ethicist, Norm Eisen was the ethics advisor in the Obama administration. What does Norm think?

“‘The basic presumption is adult kids are able to make a living . . . as long as a reasonable amount of distance is maintained from the White House,’ said Norm Eisen, who developed White House ethics rules under President Barack Obama. ‘That means things like the White House should not be promoting the art show, which as far as I know they’re not doing.’”

The question is, what is a reasonable amount of distance?

“Eisen, who was known as ‘Mr. No’ for his willingness to rule out questionable arrangements, said he would warn White House aides to stay away from anything involving the sale of art. He would also warn the president and first lady Jill Biden to be sensitive to any suggestion that they are promoting the work, he said,” The Post reported.

Some were quick to point out that Trump’s children ran the family business while their father was president, and Ivanka had her own brand (of something. I don’t recall). Remember Kellyanne Conway’s “buy Ivanka’s stuff,” mantra on FOX News?

That’s a perfect example of the everybody-does-it defense. If everybody does it, how can it be wrong?

While I agree that the younger Biden has a right to pursue his career as an artist, the White House cannot even breathe in his direction. One essential step is called for: complete transparency regarding the buyers and their backgrounds. For me, I wouldn’t settle for anything less than a completely independent panel of say, three ethics advisors to oversee the process.

My advice to the president: don’t have any Hunter Biden paintings hanging in the White House, and Hunter… no guest appearance on QVC.


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