Joe Biden always likes to remind people just how much of a regular Joe he is. For almost half a century he's worked hard to craft this "Lunch Bucket Joe" persona. He's Mr. Amtrak, commuting every day between Wilmington, Delaware and Washington, DC when he was a Senator. They even named the Wilmington Amtrak station after him in 2011. He liked to remind Americans over the years that he has little wealth to show for his long career in government, even after becoming Vice President. Except, he hasn't exactly been skipping meals and sleeping in his car either.
In 1977 before he'd even finished his first term as a U.S. Senator, his speaking fee was one of the highest in the Senate at $22,596 per speech. By 1979, Biden was one of the Senate's top 25 earners of outside income – along with 22 others on that list, he voted against a bill to limit such earnings. Today he gets between $100,000 – $200,000 per speech.
Don't cry for poor ol' Joe. He's scraping by okay.
One thing you could never accuse Joe Biden of is failing take care of his own. When his second son, Hunter Biden, graduated from Yale law school in 1996, Hunter was hired as a lobbyist with MBNA, which is a major credit card company based in Delaware. As a reminder, Joe Biden was a Delaware Senator for 36 years before he became Vice President.
Between 1989 and 2008, MBNA was Joe's largest corporate donor. In the Senate, Joe voted against a bill that would require credit card companies to warn consumers of the consequences of making only minimum payments. He also voted four times for a bankruptcy bill – supported by the credit card industry – that made it harder for financially strained borrowers to get protection from creditors. But I'm sure that had nothing to do with his donor relationship with MBNA – just like he insists he had nothing to do with MBNA hiring Hunter twice, the first time straight out of law school, and again from 2001 to 2005 as a consultant.
When he ran for president in 2008, Joe paid over $2 million in campaign cash to his family members and their businesses. $1.8 million of that went to Joe Slade White & Company for "media consulting" fees. A top executive at that company was Valerie Biden Owens – Joe Biden's sister and longtime campaign manager.
One thing you could never accuse Joe Biden of is failing take care of his own.
Biden's campaign also paid $150,000 for legal work to a lobbying and law firm in Washington DC co-owned by his son, Hunter Biden. Joe Biden's campaign spokesman insisted that Hunter didn't receive a dime of that money because another lawyer at the firm did the actual legal work for the campaign.
A 2008 report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ranked Biden among the top five senators for amount of money paid to family members over the three election cycles from 2002 to 2006. He was also in the top five for payments to a family business.
According to the Federal Election Commission, a campaign can hire family members and their companies if the work is legitimate and charged at market rates. But as you'll see in the show Thursday night, the phrase "just because you could doesn't mean you should" means nothing to Joe Biden.