WASHINGTON DC, (Washington Insider Magazine) – While Joe Biden careens around the country eating ice cream and behaving like a kind, but slightly dotty grandpa, it’s worth remembering the cynical way he used his son, Hunter, to generate cash for the family.
Hunter, now 51, wanted to be an artist or a writer, but he was assigned by his father the role of family breadwinner through lucrative grace-and-favor jobs and sweetheart deals facilitated by Joe’s network of connections in Delaware and, later, throughout the world.
Resentful of the expectations placed on him, Hunter complained that he was forced to give half his salary to his father.
“I hope you all can do what I did and pay for everything for this entire family for 30 years,” Hunter wrote in a 2019 text message to his daughter, Naomi, that was found on his abandoned laptop.
“It’s really hard. But don’t worry, unlike Pop [Joe], I won’t make you give me half your salary.”
There’s no direct evidence of such a wealth transfer on Hunter’s laptop.
But what we do know is that, while Joe was vice president, Hunter routinely paid at least some of his father’s household expenses, including AT&T bills of around $190 a month.
We know from an e-mail on June 5, 2010, with the subject “JRB bills” to Hunter from Eric Schwerin, his business partner at Rosemont Seneca, that he was expected to foot hefty bills to Wilmington contractors for maintenance and upkeep of his father’s palatial lakefront property. Joe’s initials are JRB, for Joseph Robinette Biden.
The bills that June included $2,600 to contractor Earle Downing for a “stone retaining wall” at Joe’s Wilmington estate, $1,475 to painter Ronald Peacock to paint the “back wall and columns” of the house, and $1,239 to builder Mike Christopher for repairs to the air conditioning at the cottage of Joe’s late mother, Jean “Mom-Mom” Biden, which was on his property and which he would later rent to the Secret Service for $2,200 a month.
“This is from last summer I think and needs to be paid pretty soon,” wrote Schwerin of Christopher’s bill.
Another $475 “for shutters” was owed to RBI construction, of Bear, Del., about 15 minutes west of Wilmington.
Schwerin’s e-mail to Hunter begins: “FYI, there are a few outstanding bills that need to be paid and I am not sure which ones are a priority and which should get paid out of ‘my’ account and which should be put on hold or paid out of the ‘Wilmington Trust Social Security Check Account.’ ”
He goes on to explain “there is about $2,000 extra in ‘my’ account beyond what is used for monthly expenses.” It is unknown why Schwerin used quotation marks around “my.” But it appears the account is used, at least in part, to pay expenses for Joe.
Three days later Schwerin writes Hunter again: “Mike Christopher [builder] is hassling me so I am paying a couple of the smaller things since I haven’t heard from your Dad. Know he’s busy — so it’s OK. But if you think he has a moment or two to review the e-mail I sent you let me know.”
In another e-mail to Hunter on July 6, 2010, titled “JRB Future memo,” about a plan apparently devised for Joe’s future wealth management, Schwerin writes: “Does it make sense to see if your Dad has some time in the next couple of weeks while you are in DC to talk about it? Your Dad just called me about his mortgage . . . so it dawned on me to might be a good time [for] some positive news about his future earnings potential.”
At this point, Joe had been vice president for barely 18 months of his first term.
Other documents on the laptop suggest a mingling of Joe’s finances with Hunter’s.
In an e-mail on April 12, 2018, to his assistant Katie Dodge, Hunter complains that he has been “shut out” of one his Wells Fargo bank accounts.
“Too many cooks in the kitchen. Too many profile changes and such. Happened 10 days ago too . . . My dad has been using most lines on this account which I’ve through the gracious offerings of Eric have paid for past 11 years.”
“Eric” is presumably Eric Schwerin.
Further evidence that Joe expected to receive a slice of his son’s income was provided by Tony Bobulinksi, Hunter’s former business partner in a firm called Oneida, which was set up to enter a joint venture with the Chinese energy conglomerate CEFC. Bobulinski says that Joe was the “big guy” referred to in a 2017 e-mail who was to be allocated 10 percent equity in the firm: “10 [percent] held by H [Hunter] for the big guy.”
Schwerin had been a loyal factotum to Hunter since the days they worked together in the Department of Commerce during the Clinton administration.
As president of Rosemont Seneca, Schwerin would do everything from answer Hunter’s e-mails to facilitate his alimony payments and organize his trips to China.
His relationship with Hunter later soured, but not before he developed a close relationship with the Biden family, including Joe, who attended his birthday dinner at DC’s Graffiato restaurant for 20 minutes one year.
Schwerin also was rewarded with a plum Obama government appointment to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.
Perhaps it was black humor, but in 2014, when Hunter was enmeshed in dubious moneymaking schemes in at least five countries where Joe wielded power, Schwerin e-mailed him a quote from the then-VP, answering a question about “the professional choices made by his children” that aired on WLWT in Cincinnati.
“I should have one Republican kid who’d grow up to make money,” Joe said.