NEW YORK (IANS) – The decision of US Ambassador-designate to India Eric Garcetti to attend an art exhibition of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, presaging the sale of his paintings for up to $ 500,000, raised ethical questions.
Presidential spokeswoman Jen Psaki deflected questions on October 6 about Garcetti’s ethics.
“I would refer you to the gallery owner for questions about the event and – as well as Mr. Garcetti’s representatives, in terms of attendance,” she told a reporter who asked if it was appropriate to participate in the event.
The controversy centers on the White House’s claim that the names of high-priced art buyers are kept under wraps to avoid any semblance of a conflict of interest or a buyer attempting to influence the administration of a president who has sworn to fight corruption abroad. .
Republican National Committee deputy director of rapid response Kyle Martinsen tweeted: “Here is Hunter Biden meeting with potential buyers for his art at an exhibition last week. Didn’t the White House say that he wasn’t going to know the buyers? “
Garcetti, who is the mayor of Los Angeles, was nominated by Biden to be the envoy to India in July, but his confirmation by the Senate, as required by US law, was delayed by a Republican.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz has blocked most ambassadorial appointments despite Biden waiving sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany.
President Biden, who has made the fight against corruption abroad an important part of his foreign policy, has called on his administration to fight “hard” against international corruption.
But nationally, Hunter Biden’s business and artistic relationship ethics have been called into question by the president’s critics.
Hunter Biden, who allegedly left the Navy over drug allegations, landed inexperienced in energy or Eastern Europe a job with a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, with payments of ‘about $ 50,000 per month. It was while his father as vice president oversaw Washington’s involvement with Kiev.
Later, after accompanying his father on an official visit to China, Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of a Chinese investment fund, BHR Partners, despite his lack of experience in these areas. He later acquired a 10 percent stake in the company with links to the state-run Bank of China.
Psaki categorically refused to say whether he still had the shares or not.
“He worked to calm this… Beyond that, I would talk to his representatives,” she said.
And in a gesture of genius, after his father’s election, Hunter went from being an expert in business and finance to an artist, whose works are suddenly valued at $ 500,000, a steep price for someone who doesn’t ‘had no previous presence in the art world.
To deal with the ethical issue of people seeking favors from the president paying the son money by purchasing his art, the White House said the identities of the buyers would be kept a secret by the art gallery handling the sale.
“We have been very transparent about the recommendations made to the gallery owner,” Psaki said during his briefing.
Referring to the issue of ethics, a reporter asked him: “The president’s son would sell works of art and then potentially meet people who would seek to buy them. If you have attendees at this event who might seek employment in this administration or favors in this administration, isn’t it an embarrassing situation to put the president there? “
Referring to Garcetti, the reporter said that “an appointed ambassador was present at this event. Should we expect to see more people seeking employment in this administration attending events like this in the future? ? “
About 200 people, including Hunter Biden, attended the art exhibit at a Los Angeles gallery on October 1, Mother Jones magazine reported on its website.
Hunter Biden’s relationship with the Ukrainian gas company led to the impeachment of former President Donald Trump by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
He was indicted for abusing his power to get Ukrainian authorities to investigate Hunter Biden and for obstructing Congress, but was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.