Vice President Joseph Biden is in Ukraine this week, encouraging the government in Kyiv to reform and root out corruption. But there’s a complication, according to the New York Times:
The credibility of the vice president’s anticorruption message may have been undermined by the association of his son, Hunter Biden, with one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies, Burisma Holdings, and with its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, who was Ukraine’s ecology minister under former President Viktor F. Yanukovych before he was forced into exile.
Hunter Biden, 45, a former Washington lobbyist, joined the Burisma board in April 2014. That month, as part of an investigation into money laundering, British officials froze London bank accounts containing $23 million that allegedly belonged to Mr. Zlochevsky.
Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, an independent government agency, specifically forbade Mr. Zlochevksy, as well as Burisma Holdings, the company’s chief legal officer and another company owned by Mr. Zlochevsky, to have any access to the accounts.
Edward C. Chow, who follows Ukraine policy at CSIS, worries that this connection “sends the message that a lot of foreign countries want to believe about America, that we are hypocritical about these issues.”
He’s right, but, sadly, this is standard operating procedure in DC. Our nation’s capital is full of lobbyists, influence peddlers, and kids trying to glom onto their more talented parents’ success (often with the help of those same parents). It happens in both parties, and the phenomenon of people stepping down from Congressional or regulatory posts into an extremely lucrative post-government life is widespread. Worse, the system doesn’t look likely to get better soon. On the contrary, as money from Chinese and Russian oligarchs flows into the system, things could get worse.