“Conflict of interest”? ABC suddenly confirms Biden exposé on family corruption involving son-in-law

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WASHINGTON, DC — Several mainstream media outlets are now reporting on conflict-of-interest concerns regarding President Joe Biden and his son-in-law, Dr. Howard Krein, a surgeon who is also heavily involved with a health-care investment firm.

Last year, Krein advised Biden on a daily basis regarding the pandemic while simultaneously serving as the chief medical officer of StartUp Health, where he oversees the firm’s investments in companies offering goods and services connected to COVID-19.

ABC News reported that Krein is one of the founders of the investment firm, which it called “a company with a special government connection.” The news organization reported that while the president’s son, Hunter Biden, has received attention for his questionable business dealings, Krein could present “fresh ethical challenges for the new administration.”

According to ABC News, since 2011, when Krein founded StartUp Health with his brother Steven Krein and veteran tech entrepreneur Unity Stoakes, Joe Biden has been an active supporter of the venture — headlining corporate conferences and inviting the company’s executives to the Oval Office to meet then-President Barack Obama.

Meredith McGehee, the executive director of Issue One, a nonpartisan ethics watchdog group, told ABC News:

“Howard Krein is playing with fire. If he gets too close to that flame — if he is trying to either cash in on his relationship with the president, or he is trying to influence policy — the flame is going to get him. And it is not worth it to him or to Biden.”

Bloomberg confirmed Krein was part of Biden’s health briefings:

“Biden’s son-in-law, Howard Krein, a head and neck cancer surgeon in Philadelphia and the chief medical officer of StartUp Health, a health care investment firm, has also been on the health call.”

New York Times also confirmed Krein’s participation in the briefings:

“One of those advisers, Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general, said Mr. Biden wanted to stay on top of both the large-scale policies aimed at containing the virus and on the precise efforts of local governments and medical facilities.

“Though most people on the calls are former government officials, a view from the front lines of medicine comes from a member of the Biden family: Howard Krein, the former vice president’s son-in-law, who is a doctor in Philadelphia.”

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ABC News acknowledged that since Biden is now president, Krein’s involvement with StartUp Health has raised ethics issues:

“Should Krein advise companies backed by StartUp Health in their efforts to win lucrative government contracts? Should he weigh in with his father-in-law on policy decisions that may benefit those companies?

And will he obtain sensitive government information that may help inform investment decisions?”

ABC News reported that Krein did not respond to its multiple inquiries. Instead, a statement was sent to them by StartUp Health spokesperson Jennifer Hankin in which she claimed that Krein “does not make investment decisions at StartUp Health nor does he advise or assist companies on obtaining government contracts.”

Yet back in October, Politico expressed concerns about Krein’s dual roles as Biden’s advisor while chief medical officer of StartUp Health:

“Krein simultaneously advising the campaign and venturing into Covid investing could pose conflict-of-interest concerns for a Biden administration or simply create the awkward appearance of Krein profiting off his father-in-law’s policies.

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government has directed tens of billions of dollars in coronavirus medical spending in areas like testing and vaccine research to private firms.

It is poised to spend billions more next year and possibly beyond.

“The potential conflicts are not limited to the coronavirus for Krein, 53, a Philadelphia-based head-and-neck surgeon who got into venture investing not long after he began dating Biden’s daughter, Ashley, in 2010.

“Since StartUp Health’s 2011 launch, when Krein came on as its chief medical officer, it has invested in more than 300 health care businesses, according to its website, which prominently features the term ‘moonshot’ to describe its investment goals — language that echoes that of Joe Biden’s own signature Cancer Moonshot initiative.

In its early years, the firm enjoyed close ties to the Obama administration and described Krein as a White House adviser.”

Politico also reported concerns were compounded by StartUp’s connection to foreign investors:

“The influence concerns posed by the firm are compounded by its foreign ties. One StartUp Health fund raised $31 million from investors, including the Swiss drugmaker Novartis and the Chinese insurer Ping An, in 2018.

“The firm’s website also lists the Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent as a ‘co-investor’ in its cancer moonshot initiative. A spokesperson for Tencent, Meredith Julian, declined to comment.”

In addition, StartUp Health’s sprawling portfolio of investments could make tracking potential conflicts of interest a daunting task during a Biden presidency, according to Politico:

“If Krein were to obtain an inside track on policymakers’ intentions, or if Biden appointees were to make policies favorable to companies in StartUp Health’s portfolio, there could be grounds for further investigation, ethicists said.”

In 2019, presidential candidate Biden had pledged to erect an “absolute wall” between the presidency and his family’s business dealings and said he “never” discussed business with relatives:

“I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses. Period.

“And what I will do is the same thing we did in our administration. There will be an absolute wall between personal and private [business interests] and the government.

“There wasn’t any hint of scandal at all when we were there. And I’m going to propose the same kind of strict, strict rules. That’s why I never talked with my son or my brother or anyone else — even distant family — about their business interests. Period.”

On Tuesday, CNN reported that White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters:

“The President has made clear that there will be an absolute wall between him and any businesses connected with his family members, and … no family member is going to have an office in the White House or be involved in any government policymaking.

“That applies to his son-in-law and applies to every single member of his family.

“There’s not a single member of the family who is employed at the White House, will have an office in the White House or will benefit financially.”
 
Media reports confirm what Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute and senior contributor at Breitbart News, pointed out months ago — that several of Biden’s family members monetized political connections and influence.

Schweizer also reported how Joe assisted his daughter, Ashley Biden, by helping her husband, Howard Krein, launch StartUp Health in 2011. Biden arranged a meeting with then-President Barack Obama in the Oval Office weeks after the company’s founding.

StartUp Health’s meeting with Obama was a “huge hookup,” Schweizer explained, noting StartUp Health’s securing of an invitation to Health Data-Palooza, a joint conference run by federal government and health industry:

“Health Data-Palooza is very prestigious and very hard to get into. They get hooked up and they are put front and center in this very important conference, and that’s the beginning of the favors that happen.”

ABC News confirmed that in the intervening years, StartUp Health invoked the White House meeting and their special ties to Biden as evidence of the venture’s prominence.

References to Biden are seen all across StartUp Health’s website and publications, and the company’s blog even republished an excerpt from Biden’s memoir. ABC News noted:

“Twice Biden appeared as a featured speaker at events hosted by StartUp Health that were intended to entice venture capitalists to invest in the company, touting his son-in-law’s position as an executive at the firm.”

Last year, Breitbart reported that Biden gave several private speeches and briefings to the partners and investors of Krein’s business and that his inside knowledge regarding the Obama administration’s planned healthcare policies gave Ashley’s husband a competitive advantage over competing healthcare companies.

Schweizer called the Bidens the “reigning champs when it comes to corrupt behavior in Washington, D.C.”

Ann Skeet, an expert in leadership ethics at Santa Clara University, told ABC News there are ethical considerations surrounding Krein:

“Everyone who holds elected office has an obligation to the constituents they serve, and part of that includes avoiding even the appearance of any kind of impropriety.”

Robert Weissman, president of the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen, told CNN that Biden “should not engage in conversations with Krein about health policy, nor should others in the Biden administration.”

President Biden does not seem too concerned and suggested that what’s old is new. ABC News reported that Biden told People Magazine last week:

“We’re going to run this like the Obama-Biden administration. No one in our family and extended family is going to be involved in any government undertaking or foreign policy.”

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