As reported by Politico
n 2005, Joe Biden’s brother bought an acre of land with excellent ocean views on a remote island in the Caribbean for $150,000. He divided it into three parcels, and the next year a lobbyist close to the Delaware senator bought one of the parcels for what had been the cost of the entire property. Later, the lobbyist gave Biden’s brother a mortgage loan on the remaining parcels.
The Virgin Islands land deal, reported here for the first time, furthers a pattern in which members of the Biden family have engaged in financial dealings with people with an interest in influencing the former vice president.
In this case, a Biden staffer left the Senate in the early ’90s to become a lobbyist. Both before and after the land transaction, his clients benefited from Biden’s support and appropriations requests. A firm the lobbyist co-founded — which features a testimonial from Biden praising his “emotional investment” in his work on its website — specializes in federal contracts for niche law enforcement and national security programs for which Biden long advocated.
After the land deal, Joe Biden vacationed elsewhere on the tiny island, which once protected a nearby submarine base before it became a tropical getaway, on at least three occasions.
The property itself has remained vacant and undeveloped. It is not clear why the lobbyist, Scott Green, purchased the parcel from Biden’s brother James, or why James Biden later went to the lobbyist for a loan, rather than to a bank. An easement James Biden obtained granting road access to the land before selling it to Green may have made the land more valuable, but it is unclear whether the dramatically higher price Green paid for his parcel reflected its true value. The terms of the loan were not disclosed in property records.
It is also not clear whether Joe Biden was aware of the transactions. Following the land purchase, Green continued to lobby on issues over which Biden wielded influence and to meet with Biden’s staff. Green’s firm also continued to land government contracts related to federal programs for which Biden advocated.
Representatives of the Biden campaign declined to comment. Green did not respond to several requests for comment. A lawyer for James Biden, George Mesires, acknowledged receiving questions, but did not respond to them.
James Biden, six years Joe’s junior, served as finance chairman on his older brother’s first Senate campaign in 1972. He went on to pursue an entrepreneurial career that regularly intersected with Joe’s public duties. He once sought to launch a Washington lobbying firm, but the venture was cut short when his would-be partners were convicted of attempting to bribe a judge in an unrelated matter. He has previously been accused by former business contacts of seeking to exploit the former vice president’s clout for financial gain in court proceedings in New York, Kentucky, and Florida, though he has denied such claims.
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