I have low expectations of Joe Biden ethically and intellectually, but this made my head explode.
Three weeks before the November elections, Joe Biden spoke at Lake Michigan College before an audience including Representative Fred Upton, Republican, who represented the area and was in a tough race for reelection. Biden effusively praised Upton, reflecting on his support for cancer research and calling him “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.” Biden’s surprising endorsement was included in Upton’s campaign ads, and the Republican narrowly defeated his Democratic challenger. This week, the New York Times revealed that Biden received $200,000 from the The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan to give the speech, according to a contract obtained by the Times and and its interviews with organizers. The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan is supported in part by grants from a foundation run by Fred Upton’s family.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
That’s a bribe, my friends. It’s not the illegal kind, though if Upton were a lawyer and he paid Biden to say that he was a great one, that could get Upton suspended or disbarred. Joe Biden, a former Democratic VP with the accumulated prestige and respect that position carries, accepted $200,000 from Republicans to help defeat a fellow Democrat.
Of course that was unethical; also venal, disloyal and dishonest. It was, at very least, what the government ethics regulations call “the appearance of impropriety,” endangering the public trust. What was represented as a genuine endorsement was no more sincere than when celebrities pimp for breakfast cereal or cosmetics; it was baught and paid for. Did Biden’s audience know he was paid that much endorse Upton? Did the voters who saw his remarks not think, “This guy must be great: he was endorsed by a leader of the Democratic Party!”
Biden now acts as if there is nothing to be ashamed of, telling the US Conference of Mayors after the story came out, “I like Republicans. Bless me, father, for I have sinned!” This is deceit and obfuscation: it’s not the endorsement itself that is damning, it’s the bribe. Biden accepted an obscene speaking fee to throw a fellow Democrat under the bus. Vox, which has about as much integrity as Biden has, also tried to lead readers away from the real issue. “Praising a House Republican for their good work on cancer research isn’t exactly at odds with how Biden views himself or wants to present himself to the public. He wants people to believe he can bring Americans together. But if Biden decides to jump into the race, the question will be whether that’s the message Democratic primary voters want to hear right now,” the progressive site concluded.
Gee, do you think voters might also have doubts about the character and integrity of a politician who takes a bribe to undermine his own party? Vox doesn’t even seem to see that as an issue, or sees that it is an issue and is helping Uncle Joe bury it.
Biden is currently the front-runner in polling regarding possible Democratic Presidential candidates.
29 thoughts on “KABOOM! Biden Takes A Bribe”
As far as I can tell, the only difference between a big campaign contribution and a bribe is that the former goes to a politician and the latter goes to a bureaucrat.
A contract to exchange money for a vote would be a crime.
Joltin’ Joe could plead ignorance and anyone able to fog a mirror wouldn’t disagree.
Cannot and will not agree with you on this one. Yes, he got a huge speaker’s fee. But from the Club. Upton indeed sponsored legislation very meaningful to the Biden family. Others who have received huge fees in the past year are, for example only, Chuck Todd (hardly an Upton supporter) and Wes Moore (philosophically quite distant from Upton). I think you found “bribery” where none exists, and I am about as far from being a Biden supporter as one can get.
He accepted $200,000 to oppose his party’s candidate, Michael. The fee was paid by the GOP candidate’s family. If it’s not a quid pro quo, it loks like one. A contract to vote for a bill that benefited family for that amount would land a Senator in prison. If Biden was genuinely showing gratitude for the cancer support, then he could have spoken for free. THat’s allowed, you know.
I would have no problem writing an official expert letter asserting that in my professional opinion, what Biden did was unethical, and extremely so.
Of course, I would have to be paid for my time.
Was the fee paid by the family? Was he even selected by the family? It seems the fee was paid by the Club without any appearance of quid pro quo. Otherwise, I agree Biden is not competent to be President. Then again, that does ‘t Seemed to have stopped our last 2.
Well, I’ve worked with several family foundations. A 200,000 dollar speaking fee would almost have to run by the board, and the board is dominated by family members.
My “feeling” (perhaps naive, or perhaps you infer more than I do) are almost captured by this from The Hill: Recently, the New York Times breathlessly reported that former Vice President Joe Biden had the temerity to praise a long-serving Republican member of Congress during a speech to a Midwest audience in the run-up to the 2018 election. This member—Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan—went on to win re-election by a relatively narrow margin. And now that Biden is signaling that he may very well run for president in 2020, the partisan knives are out—and it’s members of his own party who are holding them. This sad little vignette exemplifies exactly what is wrong with American politics today.
“Mr. Biden stunned Democrats and elated Republicans by praising Mr. Upton while the lawmaker looked on from the audience,” the Times reports. “Alluding to Mr. Upton’s support for a landmark medical-research law, Mr. Biden called him a champion in the fight against cancer—and ‘one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.’” As the Times also notes, Upton had nothing to do with Biden giving the speech, and there is “no evidence Mr. Biden was motivated to praise the lawmaker by anything other than sincere admiration, stemming from Mr. Upton’s role in crafting the 21st Century Cures Act after the death of Mr. Biden’s elder son, Beau, from cancer in 2015.”
This is what we’ve come to: partisans attacking a lifelong public servant because he has the nerve to show active support for a member of another party who played a key role in the passage of legislation that vastly improves efforts to fight a disease that took the life of his child. It’s shameful, self-serving—and frankly bad politics. Most Americans would look at Biden’s praise for Upton for what it is: a genuine expression of humanity, respect, and gratitude. Upton responded in turn: “Being in the audience with my family and hearing Vice President Biden reference our work together was an immense honor…He was warmly received by everyone in attendance who were thrilled to have him there, including myself.”
As Biden spokesman Bill Russo says in response, “Vice President Biden believes to his core that you can disagree politically on a lot and still work together in good faith on issues of common cause—like funding cancer research.” Biden himself responded similarly and with good humor: “I read in New York Times today…that one of my problems is if I ever run for president, I like Republicans,” Biden told the Conference of Mayors. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” He added: “But, you know, from where I come from, I don’t know how you get anything done…unless we start talking to one another again.”
Exactly. Only in the fun-house mirror politics of 2019 would these sentiments be considered anything but commonplace and laudable. These two public servants worked together on an issue that is important to them personally and to the American people in general. In doing so, they forged a mutual respect that transcends party affiliation—and as a result, they speak well of each other in public. While partisans—especially, one must suspect, Biden’s potential rivals for the Democratic nomination—cynically try to exploit this moment for political gain, it will be the rest of us who will lose if they are successful in their attempts to stymie bipartisanship and national unity.
We should be praising, not pillorying Biden (and Upton) for their approach to public service. Throughout our history, it has been exactly the kind of human connection made by Biden and Upton that have allowed us to move beyond parochial disputes, find common ground, and craft the kind of bipartisan solutions that enjoy true majority support and stand the test of time. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill. George Mitchell and Bob Dole. Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy. John Kerry and John McCain. Lyndon Johnson and Everett Dirksen. It was these friendships that forged the basis of compromise on issue after issue in the 20th Century.
Biden’s speech, and both his and Upton’s response demonstrates the kind of basic decency and bipartisan spirit that most Americans long for—and which could pay off handsomely at the ballot box if either party can stop being the ideological purity police and return to a focus on commonsense governance.
Nancy Jacobson is co-founder and CEO of No Labels.
Chris, is that you?
Comment of the Day, Michael, but naive, or perhaps wishful thinking. Biden is the guy who said of Republicans to a black audience, “They want to put y’all back in chains!” And he’s suddenly bi-partisan, as his party is desperate to win the House majority, and the $200,000 has nothing to do with it?
Michael, as much as I try to (and like to) disagree with Jack, I am having a hard time here.
It is fine that he gets a speaking fee.
It is fine that he endorsed Upton.
It is not unusual that Upton would be present when endorsed.
It is a little bit odd that the endorsement would come in a paid speech (usually this would be done at campaign rallies for free, no? Even with the Clintons.).
That makes the source of the payment, a family run group (ugh, flashbacks to the Clinton Foundation.) related to the candidate endorsed.
These things individually, or a few combined seem like no problem. All of them together lol suspicious. Yes, the appearance of impropriety. The best I can come up with is Biden was unaware of the connection between the group and Upton. But, that kind of mistake would be a rookie mistake and Biden could not be that naive.
Or, perhaps more plausible, Upton’s group wanted to capitalize on his relation to Biden to raise funds. He asked Biden to speak because he could draw donations for a cause they both supported. And, then, Biden went off-script and gave Upton an unsolicited endorsement.
That is the best I can do.
It’s not fine that Biden endorsed Upton. Even if it were a sincere endorsement, which I doubt, and not paid for, the endorsement was based on Biden’s personal interests—cancer research, because of his son—and not the party’s. He had a conflict of interest. He is still a leader of his Party, and as such, is obligated to put his party’s interests first. For all he knew, that single race might have been the difference between a House majority and a Democratic loss. He cannot ethically choose his own interests over the party, and that’s what he did.
Trump won Michigan.
The Democrats need to take it back.
Biden might be running in 2020.
If Biden hopes to take back Michigan in 2020, he needs to poach voters from the other side; he does not need more votes from his party; they will vote for him. He needs to go after people near the middle.
It may be giving him to much credit to think this is his thought process.
However, it does illustrate the idea that he can be helping his party long-term, even with actions that are not productive short-term.
Having the democratic candidate take one seat, when a flip of one of the houses in this election was extremely likely based on history, does the party little good if Trump takes Michigan in 2020.
Hilary took Michigan for granted. Maybe Biden is not.
Two hundred thousand dollars for a minutes long off the cuff speech, plus travel expenses, no doubt, which speech endorses a guy running against the member of the speaker’s party “demonstrates the kind of basic decency and bipartisan spirit that most Americans long for?” Coulda’ fooled me.
Frankly, I think Biden’s doing this shows what a dope he is. What was he thinking? Was he thinking?
As much as he was able. Keep in mind, this guy has a double-digit IQ, and a Triple Digit sex drive. #MeToo was designed with him in mind.
“Several people involved in planning the event said Mr. Upton, 65, had no role in arranging Mr. Biden’s appearance, and Mr. Upton said he was not involved. There is no evidence Mr. Biden was motivated to praise the lawmaker by anything other than sincere admiration, stemming from Mr. Upton’s role in crafting the 21st Century Cures Act after the death of Mr. Biden’s elder son, Beau, from cancer in 2015.” (NYT)
May be clumsy. Might fail with the ‘ethics nazis’. But my ‘alarm’ doesn’t sound on this one at all. Mind you the alarm has been pretty overused recently and it might have become somewhat desensitized…..
Andrew, you take the NYT at its word?
Wow! Spin! It doesn’t matter whether Upton “had a role”—his family paid the fee and he benefited. Whether the family bribed Biden to betray his party’s candidate, or the foundation, of the GOP, or Upton, doesn’t make any difference as far as Biden’s conduct. Same money, same betrayal, same appearance of impropriety.
The size of the “speaking fee” casts a shadow over everything, though I’m not sure there was any other wrongdoing. If you want to give someone a free $200,000, just do it. Don’t insult our intelligence by saying it was “earned” because a guy showed up and talked first.
Reminds me of the following old parabel
Except Joe Biden posesses no skill so useful as swinging a hammer. He would have married the manager’s rich ex-wife, then groped his daughter, told a couple of bad dad-jokes and sent a bill for $200,000.
“Endorsement”? Not by my definition. Seems like Mr. Biden just called out Rep. Upton for being a good guy. An endorsement would be along the lines of “I really think Fred is the best man for the job, and you should vote for him instead of his opponent.” I haven’t heard anything about this issue except for this post, so I am possibly missing something. But whether he took money for this is beside the point – he gets paid to do speeches, and this was a speech. He didn’t endorse Upton.
Now that’s hair splitting.
Yeah, I expected that nit-pick, which is what it is. No, it’s not a formal endorsement. It’s still an endorsement, and was represented as such in the subsequent ads. Endorse means “declare one’s public approval or support of.” Go ahead, try to make the case that someone saying that an official is “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with” isn’t “endorsing” him.
This should be good.
My goodness, Jack, you’ve lured an entire new group of paid lefty apologists off the sidelines and out of the woodwork. I’m guessing Joe Biden (My Time) is the DNC’s choice for 2020 and they have people policing the blogosphere and its commentariat. Interesting phenomenon.
Michael’s no left apologist. He’s just wrong in this case. It even happens to me sometimes.
The accumulation of comments all along the same lines are redolent of issued and received talking points.
At least to me. Call me crazy.
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t prove they are not out to get you.