Biden under scrutiny for use of federal funds on 1978 South Africa trip

 April 30, 2024

President Joe Biden is no stranger to telling very tall tales on the campaign trail, usually depending on the audience to whom he's speaking. 

One of his repeated lies involves a bizarre story he tells about being arrested in South Africa while trying to visit Nelson Mandela. Not surprisingly, he usually tells that story when speaking to voters of color.

Aside from the story being grossly exaggerated and partly false, Biden also came under scrutiny for the way he conducted his trip, including bringing his brother and his questionable use of federal funds, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

His political rivals at the time said the trip was a prime example of his budding corruptness.

What happened?

Interestingly, according to newly unearthed documents, then-Senator Biden was on the verge of a serious situation when it was revealed that the State Department, under Henry Kissinger, took an interest in his trip.

That interest came in the form of scrutinization, as it was reported that he combed through Biden's receipts and a request directly from Kissinger to the U.S. embassies involved in the trip.

"Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. Traveled with [Congressional delegation Rep. Charles Diggs (D., Mich.)] ... Would appreciate embassy cabling amounts returned and pouching xeroxed copies of recipients," Kissinger wrote at the time.

Even more notable is that Biden was said to have treated the trip, which happened about halfway through his first term as a senator, as a "vacation" instead of a congressional junket.

The Free Beacon noted:

Biden treated the trip more like a vacation. He opted not to bring any members of his staff, as is common for congressional junkets, and instead arranged for Frank to join. Biden obtained special permission from the State Department to bring him. Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Frank Biden did not have a passport before the trip, and a State Department cable indicates he was issued one three days before his departure.

Heavily criticized

At the time, Biden and his brother stayed at hotels at the expense of the State Department (U.S. taxpayers) and seemed to have been engaged in more play than work.

His political opponent at the time, James Baxter Jr., slammed Biden over the trip.

"When my senator makes at least five trips abroad at taxpayer’s expense, when he claims one stop was a plane refueling stop, and I find out he went on a wildlife photo safari, when he uses his position to take a relative along on a foreign junket without reimbursing the person’s airplane expenses—that’s an issue," he said.

Not only does President Biden repeatedly lie about his past depending on the audience, it also appears that he's always had a flair for maximizing the perks of elected office -- to say the least -- which was certainly not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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