Issues Facing Joe Biden For President

Hunter Biden
Hunter Biden

In Democratic polling, Joe Biden almost always comes in 2nd to Hillary Clinton.  As Obama’s Vice President and former senator, Joe Biden’s decision-making style is a “known quantity.”  He has name recognition and credibility. 

What issues could potentially go against Biden – should he campaign for President?

One of the most notable issues may be the fact that his youngest son, Hunter Biden, currently works for Ukraine’s largest private gas producer (as measured by volume).  

The White House has downplayed the notion of a conflict of interest with Hunter Biden’s appointment. 

Indeed, American conflict-of-interest laws and federal ethics rules essentially do not regulate the business activities of adult relatives of those who work in the White House, and some sources claim that there’s no indication that the situation crosses legal or ethical lines.

However, ethics experts appear divided.

“The primary problem here is the fact that Hunter Biden has set up a financial arrangement with someone who might have business pending before this administration,” said Craig Holman, an ethics expert with Public Citizen.

On June 7th, 2014, Joe Biden led the U.S. delegation at the inauguration of Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, and announced $48 million in additional aid for the Kiev government.

Joe Biden met Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

The Office of the Vice President said some of the money will help Ukraine “enhance its energy security.” 

Hunter Biden is a lawyer with insider connections to the financial industry and government.

Hunter Biden’s appointment comes as the U.S. and much of the West seeks to help Ukraine wean itself off its dependence on Russia for oil and gas supplies.

Burisma’s biggest subsidiary, Esko Pivnich, pumps gas from the Poltava region east of Kiev.  At least two oil and natural gas fields leased by subsidiaries of Burisma are in Ukrainian territories where pro-Russian sentiments remain strong,  

Eastern Ukraine is the major oil and gas producing region of Ukraine, accounting for approximately 90 per cent of Ukrainian production.  

Countries like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and France have given up plans to develop shale gas deposits in their territories.  Also, Germany announced that it would halt shale-gas drilling for the next seven years over groundwater pollution concerns.

Supposedly, Eastern Ukraine is also one of the few places in Europe that has oil and doesn’t have a fracking ban. 

Burisma is controlled by Nikolai Zlochevsky, a former member of Parliament for Mr. Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

Zlochevsky served as Mr. Yanukovych’s minister of environmental protection from July 2010 and then become minister of ecology and natural resources in December 2010.  These are key positions with influence over the oil and gas industry.  It is interesting that an oil and gas producer would serve as the minister of environmental protection.

During his tenure as a government minister, Burisma and entities associated with the firm received a large number of permits for oil and gas exploration in Ukraine and stepped up their output considerably, according to Ukrainian press reports.  

Hunter Biden’s appointment came a few weeks after Devon Archer —college roommate of Christopher Heinz, John Kerry’s stepson—joined the board of Burisma. 

Mr. Archer was an adviser to Mr. Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004 and co-chaired his National Finance Committee. According to his biography, he serves as a trustee of the Heinz Family Office, which manages the family business.

When his father was in the U.S. Senate, Hunter Biden’s work as a lobbyist came under scrutiny. The Wall Street Journal reported that Hunter Biden and his uncle had run a fund of funds that was being marketed exclusively by Texas financier R. Allen Stanford’s companies.  Mr. Stanford later was sentenced to 110 years in prison for masterminding a $7 billion Ponzi scheme..

The hiring of Joe Biden’s son comes at a time when Ukraine is trying to get as much oil and gas as it can because it wants to wean itself off of Russian energy.  There will be little competition from other European nations.  $48 million in additional aid for the Kiev government was pledged recently by the United States.  

The optics make it look like the Biden family wants to somehow profit from this.  It doesn’t look good and there could be more to this.  It could become a point of contention with Biden’s potential Republican opposition.

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