While the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden’s business dealings is well known, he’s not the only member of the family to pose headaches for President Joe Biden as he seeks to maintain a clean public image.
Fresh scandal is brewing around the president’s son-in-law, health care investor Howard Krein, over his stake in companies seeking to profit from the government’s coronavirus response.
Biden’s son-in-law attracts fresh scandal
According to the Washington Examiner, Krein is the husband of Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley, and is the chief medical officer of StartUp Health, a venture capital firm that has invested in some 350 start-ups.
In December, one of those companies, the tech firm Yosi Health, allegedly conscripted Krein to push software it developed for facilitating vaccinations onto Joe Biden’s team.
“Our goal with StartUp Health is to leverage their relationships and work with state and federal agencies,” the company’s CEO, Hari Prasad, told ABC News.
Cozying up with the White House?
Krein and his firm have boasted over the years about their connection with Joe Biden, an “active supporter,” to attract investors, ABC reported.
As vice president, Biden invited the company’s executives to meet then-President Barack Obama, and he has spoken at the company’s corporate conferences. “Changing the culture to vastly expand cooperation; that’s what attracts me to Startup Health — not just my incredible admiration for my son-in-law,” the now-president said at the 2018 StartUp Health Festival in San Francisco, according to ABC.
While Joe Biden was campaigning for president in 2020, Krein joined him in the spring as an adviser on the coronavirus, even as he sought to invest in companies looking to take advantage of the pandemic.
A spokeswoman for StartUp Health said that Krein “does not make investment decisions at StartUp Health nor does he advise or assist companies on obtaining government contracts,” however, according to the Examiner.
Ethical landmines ahead
President Biden, for his part, has insisted that he will maintain an “absolute wall” between his government work and family interests, although at the moment that wall is looking pretty porous. His son Hunter is under investigation for tax fraud, and emails publicized last year showed that his father was involved in his foreign financial dealings as vice president. It was also recently reported that Hunter is still working to divest his stake in a Chinese company.
What’s more, with the pandemic, Krein’s position will almost certainly provide opportunities down the road that will be hard for him and his associates to resist.
“Dr. Krein presents an ethical dilemma because he’s being placed in a position where people want him to deliver access and information that will provide them with a competitive advantage,” Scott Amey, general counsel at the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, told ABC News. And it can only go downhill from here.