A number of GOP Representatives have initiated a probe into the new career path of US President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, to review it for possibly "profiting off the presidency", Fox News reported on Wednesday, citing a collective letter from House Oversight Republicans.
The letter covers not only Hunter's yet "undiscovered" talent, but also other family members who, according to US media reports cited in the document, are "attempting to profit from their proximity to the White House".
"Unfortunately, these reports of President Biden using his former official positions of public trust to swell the coffers of his family members are widespread, and any hope the pattern of family self-dealing would finally stop when he assumed the presidency has been dashed", the letter read.
Regarding Hunter Biden's newest passion, the letter questions the price of his paintings, reported to be estimated from $75,000 to $500,000, and possible motives of potential buyers.
"The prices for these paintings by someone with no formal training or history as an artist raise questions about whether the art is being offered for its merit or its connection to the White House", the Republicans noted, pointing to the art industry being a "well-known tool for money laundering and other illicit activities".
Hunter Biden’s paintings- which art collectors are already saying are impressive and different. pic.twitter.com/kyRWpfZ5Oe— David Yankovich (@DavidYankovich) July 11, 2021
The GOP members also criticised an initiative from the White House to develop an agreement that would oblige Hunter's art dealer, Georges Berges, to secure the anonymity of buyers. The Republicans claimed that anonymity would open the White House up to foreign influence and "allow foreigners to circumvent sanctions and gain access to the US economy".
"Because we don't know who is paying for this art and we don't know for sure that [Hunter Biden] knows, we have no way of monitoring whether people are buying access to the White House…What these people are paying for is Hunter Biden's last name", the letter cited Walter Shaub, former Office of Government Ethics director under President Obama as saying.
So instead of disclosing who is paying outrageous sums for Hunter Biden's artwork so that we could monitor whether the purchasers are gaining access to government, the WH tried to make sure we will never know who they are. That’s very disappointing. /1 https://t.co/4ToAJNwWg7— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 8, 2021
Responding to criticism, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that Hunter Biden has the right to "pursue an artistic career just like any child of a president has the right to pursue a career", stressing that "it would be challenging for an anonymous person who we don't know and Hunter Biden doesn't know to have influence".
Other Family Members
Aside from Hunter, who, it seems, has never left the media glare since the notorious "laptop from hell" incident, the letter mentions two other Biden family members - his sister, Valerie Biden Owens and brother, Francis Biden.
Valerie Biden Owens, who was described as a "confidante and longtime political strategist" of the incumbent US president and who is set to publish a book dedicated to her relationship with Joe Biden was mentioned in connection with the contents of the aforementioned manuscript, as the letter reads, the "nontransparent nature of the transaction raises questions about what exactly is not available to be monetized as it relates to President Biden's time in the White House".
The 46th POTUS' brother, Francis Biden, was accused of promoting "his relationship to the commander-in-chief in an Inauguration Day advertisement for the law firm he advises".
In a bid to "understand the extent of the Biden family's use of its connection to the president to enrich itself and any steps your office is taking to mitigate future self-dealing", Republicans requested from the White House general counsel and National Archives and Records Administration a number of documents.
The request includes "a list of all past and ongoing foreign business interests and past and ongoing foreign relations for members of the Biden family" along with documentation linked to Hunter Biden's artwork, as well as "Biden family members appearances in advertisements, public speaking events, or any instance in which the Biden name was used to solicit business, investments, or interest or awareness in a business, campaign, or organisation of any sort".
They have also demanded data related to a 2013 trip to China and a 2016 trip to Mexico in which Hunter Biden travelled with his father, who was at the time the US vice president in the Obama administration.
The letter was compiled by and signed by 12 Republican Representatives, led by the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky).
Earlier in January, White Hous press secretary Jen Psaki claimed that it was the Biden administration's policy "that the president's name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities to suggest or in any way, in any way they could reasonably be understood to imply his endorsement or support".