by Julie Kelly
A few days before the 2016 presidential election, outgoing Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, announced the formation of the Biden Foundation. “The Biden Foundation is an educational foundation dedicated to exploring the ways that everyone—no matter their income level, race, gender, age, or sexuality—can expect to be treated with dignity and to receive a fair shot at achieving the American Dream,” read the nonprofit’s press release dated November 5, 2016.
In the span of several weeks, the nonprofit quickly was seeded with millions of dollars in donations. A year-end disclosure report for 2016 showed $3.4 million in contributions; the group spent a few hundred thousand on expenses but awarded no grants that first year.
The practice of spending most of its money on salaries and expenses while directing little or nothing toward the Biden Foundation’s stated mission followed a pattern. During its brief three-year history, the Biden Foundation raised nearly $10 million but less than ten percent was awarded to other charities—and half of that meager sum was donated to another Biden-run nonprofit.
Although the Biden Foundation pledged to focus on the couple’s pet projects, a very small portion of the Bidens’ largess directly benefited any of those causes. Instead, the charity appears to have funded the Bidens’ pre-primary campaigning for president—most of the charity’s activities involved public speeches by Joe and Jill—while reaching out to key constituencies such as military families and gay rights activists.
The charity launched an “LGBTQ Inclusion and Equity Initiative” with the YMCA. Biden was attempting to burnish his LGBTQ cred before announcing his candidacy. “[W]e will begin to change our culture to one of greater inclusion, empathy and understanding by enhancing the ability of YMCAs to serve LGBTQ youth and adults,” Biden explained in a May 2018 CNN column. The initiative generated lots of positive coverage for Biden as Democratic voters began to vet their party’s prospective presidential candidates.
But despite all the spin, the Biden Foundation only gave two grants totalling a little more than $400,000 to the YMCA that year. It would mark the nonprofit’s only direct donation to the initiative.
In fact, even though the Biden Foundation raised $3.2 million in 2018, it donated just $55,000 more to three other nonprofits. The Military Child Education Coalition, a charity based in Texas that assists the families of U.S. servicemen, received a paltry $20,000 from the fund.
Politically connected lawyers, however, fared much better. Perkins Coie, best known for acting as the pass-through between Fusion GPS and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 to produce the infamous Steele dossier, was paid more than $230,000.
Aside from a handful of minor grants, the Biden Foundation made only one other major contribution in its three-year history; the charity donated $495,323 to the Biden Cancer Initiative, a separate nonprofit created in 2017, two years after Beau Biden died of brain cancer. In 2017 and 2018, the Biden Cancer Initiative raised another $4.8 million in donations; it did not award any grants. Instead, the nonprofit spent $3 million on the salaries and benefits of a four-person staff.
And like all things Biden, the group acted as a gateway to financially benefit close family members. Dr. Howard Krein, Biden’s son-in-law, served on its board of directors. Biden and Krein traveled around the country to attend health care industry events under the guise of the Biden Cancer Initiative as the former vice president shored up financial support for the 2020 Democratic primaries. “[D]rug companies, hospitals, insurers, medical associations and charities have pledged millions to the cause,” a 2019 Associated Press expose revealed. “The Biden Cancer Initiative has listed 58 separate collaborations joined by more than 200 health care companies and other groups.”
The partnerships posed a conflict of interest for two reasons. First, the partnering companies, according to an estimate by AP, had roughly $400 million in business before the federal government at the time. The ties, one ethics professor admitted, could create a concern that the “Biden administration would give favorable treatment for anyone who supported his foundation.” (Joe and Jill Biden stepped down as co-chairs shortly after the AP story.)
Second, at the same time Krein was attached to Biden’s hip and touting this nonprofit around the world, he was—and remains—a top executive at a healthcare venture capital firm. Krein’s brother, Steve, launched StartUp Health in 2011, “which evolved into a full-fledged investment firm and startup incubator,” a recent Politico article detailed.
Steve Krein scored an Oval Office meeting with President Obama shortly thereafter, thanks to a call from Joe Biden. “‘I have to get them up here to talk with Barack,” Krein told an industry website in 2015 about how Biden arranged the meeting. “The Secret Service came and got Steve [who was in Washington, D.C. that day] . . . and brought them to the Oval Office.’” It’s unclear whether the meeting appeared on the president’s official schedule.
Obama’s chief technology officer introduced Krein at a government health care conference the very next day; he excitedly told the crowd Krein was going to “make a big deal about a big opportunity!” No mention of Krein’s ties to Vice President Biden.
But it worked. StartUp Health raised $500,000 in 2012; by 2018, one fund had raised $31 million. And like all things Biden, cash is flowing from international sources.
“The influence concerns posed by the firm are compounded by its foreign ties,” Politico’s Ben Schreckinger wrote in an overlooked article on October 13. “One StartUp Health fund raised $31 million from investors, including . . . the Chinese insurer Ping An. The firm’s website also lists the Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent as a ‘co-investor’ in its cancer moonshot initiative.”
The Kreins now are looking to profit from the coronavirus pandemic. StartUp Health announced in March an effort to invest in “innovations” to combat the virus. Biden even did a voice-over for a promotional video posted on the firm’s website. Krein, once again, is doing double-duty; he’s advising his father-in-law on COVID policy and response while running StartUp Health. (Krein is a surgeon.)
Biden and Kamala Harris have made the president’s coronavirus response a central, and they hope, winning campaign issue. More lockdowns and a national mask mandate could be a near-term reality if Biden is elected; the nonstop hysteria certainly will serve the Biden family’s health care-related interests.
Both Biden charities have suspended operation. Despite the Bidens’ moralizing about helping others, the nonprofits did little but help the Biden family.
It’s almost like a family tradition.
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Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President.