Ethics experts are raising concerns about a reported agreement involving the White House that will keep secret the buyers of Hunter Biden's artwork at an upcoming auction.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that White House officials helped draft a document stating that the names of the purchasers will be kept confidential, including from Hunter Biden, President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE's son.
An art sale featuring Hunter Biden's work is expected to take place this fall. The Post reported that the gallery owner, Georges Bergès, will set the prices for the work and shield the names of the bidders and purchasers. Bergès will also reject any offer he deems suspicious, the Post said.
The arrangement is intended to prevent buyers from purchasing the artwork to gain access or favor with the Biden administration, but it represents the latest ethical headache for the president involving the work of his son, and ethics experts warned that the plan could backfire.
"So instead of disclosing who is paying outrageous sums for Hunter Biden’s artwork so that we could monitor whether the purchasers are gaining access to government, the WH tried to make sure we will never know who they are. That’s very disappointing," tweeted Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubThousands march on Washington in voting rights push White House defends plans for Hunter Biden art sale Hunter Biden artwork attracts ethics scrutiny: report MORE, who led the Office of Government Ethics from 2013 to 2017.
"The idea’s that even Hunter won’t know, but the WH has outsourced government ethics to a private art dealer," Shaub continued in a lengthy Twitter thread. "We’re supposed to trust a merchant in an industry that’s fertile ground for money laundering, as well as unknown buyers who could tell Hunter or WH officials? No thanks."
The White House defended the arrangement to the Post, with deputy press secretary Andrew Bates calling it a "prime example" of how President Biden "has established the highest ethical standards of any administration in American history."
Other defenders have argued that Hunter Biden should be allowed to make money pursuing his own career, and they have noted former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE's adult children continued to run his family business or serve in the White House while the former president frequently stayed at his own properties.
Republicans are likely to hold up the Post report on Hunter Biden's artwork as another example of the president's son using the family name for personal profit. A number of Republican lawmakers have already pushed for an investigation into Hunter Biden's business dealings, and his work for the Ukrainian gas company Burisma when his father was vice president was at the center of Trump's first impeachment.
Hunter Biden has acknowledged his father's name likely helped him get a job on the board of Burisma, but he and his father have repeatedly denied that there was ever any conflict of interest or that they ever discussed business.
Hunter Biden is also under federal investigation for his taxes.