Earlier, several GOP Representatives initiated a probe into the new “artistic” career path of US President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to review it for possibly “profiting off the presidency”, specifically, questioning the price of his paintings, reportedly selling for between $75,000 and $500,000, and the possible motives of potential buyers.
Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., is set to introduce a new transparency bill, which will require that presidents and vice presidents provide financial disclosures for all of their non-dependent children.
While a requirement is already in place under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 for spouses and dependent children of presidents to disclose their finances, the new bill – Preventing Anonymous Income by Necessitating Transparency of Executive Relatives (PAINTER) Act – amends it “to require the financial disclosures regarding all children of the President and the Vice President”.
It defines a “non-dependent child as any individual who is a son, daughter, stepson, or stepdaughter of the reporting individual that is over the age of 17 and that is not a dependent child of such reporting individual.’’
The bill comes as the White House has faced scrutiny over Hunter Biden’s new artistic endeavours. The President’s son, who has no formal training or history as an artist, is now venturing into the art world with the intention to exhibit his own works and sell them for hundreds of thousands of dollars, prompting speculation that the pieces of art would be used for money laundering.
With the price of his paintings reportedly estimated at between $75,000 and $500,000, GOP members have been criticising an initiative from the White House to develop an agreement that would oblige Hunter’s art dealer, Georges Berges, to secure the anonymity of buyers.
‘Backdooring and Buying Influence’
According to Waltz, cited by Fox News, the new bill is “aimed at stopping” what he slammed as “the obvious and shameless grift that’s going on with Hunter Biden’s art sales, for which he is obviously not qualified to do and is only doing to continue to profit off of his family name.”
Joe Biden’s second son has been in the media spotlight since last October, when the New York Post published an exposé on him citing information it obtained from a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden that he seems to taken to an IT repair store in 2019, but never returned to collect.
It included emails, which showed that Hunter Biden had purportedly arranged a meeting between Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, and his father Joe Biden, when the latter was serving as vice-president to Barack Obama.
The story contradicted Joe Biden’s stance that he was never involved in his son’s business dealings overseas and underscored that it might be interpreted as a conflict of interest. Hunter Biden is currently being investigated by the US Department of Justice over allegations of influence-peddling using his father’s name during his VP tenure to secure lucrative business deals in China as well as Ukraine.
Rep. Michael Waltz deplored what he believed was an “obvious and despicable trend”, emphasising that the president’s son was “an equity holder in the China nuclear power group that is blacklisted for trying to steal American warhead technology”.
“I mean we can keep going down the list of egregious act after egregious act, and we have to put a stop to it. And I’m going to do my best to get it into legislation,” said the Florida Republican.
Waltz added that while this bill is focusing on expanding the disclosures outside of spouses and dependent children “to get to grown children,” he “would be open” to expanding it further. “The PAINTER Act, at this point, would expand it to the president’s grown children,” said Waltz.
The congressman argued that his initiative was all about “getting some transparency and shining a light on this.”
“We should know who is backchanneling, backdooring and buying influence — which Hunter Biden has a long history of selling — to the President of the United States.”
‘National Security Problem’
Regarding Hunter Biden’s art dealer, Georges Berges, and his purported ties to China, Waltz warned that “Hunter’s ties to China pose a national security problem.”
“The fact that he flew on Air Force Two on official business and weeks later was given a billion dollars from the central bank of China – and then, months later, another half a billion – given his total lack of qualifications is a disturbing and obvious grift in and of itself.”
The congressman voiced his concerns that Hunter Biden was “cozying up’ to the Chinese, who “want artificial intelligence, advanced materials, quantum computing, robotics.”
“What this is about is putting some transparency in place. And it’s sad the Biden family won’t do it voluntarily, that we have to legislate this. So that’s what it’s getting after.”
Hunter Biden Art Controversy
The new bill comes as the White House defended the president son’s plans to hold an art auction, pledging that neither he, nor the president will know who the potential buyers are.
A representative for George Berges was previously cited by Fox News as saying the sales of Biden’s art will be kept “confidential.” However, this appears to be in contradiction to reports that Hunter Biden is planning to meet potential buyers of his paintings ahead of the auction.
“Oh yes. With pleasure. He’s looking forward to it. It is like someone debuting in the world. And of course he will be there,” a spokeswoman from the Georges Berges Gallery in New York said in an interview with CBS News, in reference to a meet and greet supposedly slated to take place at the art galleries where Hunter’s paintings are exhibited, ahead of the auction.
The date of the latter remains unknown.