When it comes to Joe and Hunter Biden, there always seems to be a continuing saga of questionable actions surrounding them.
The White House decided, wrongly, to involve itself in Hunter Biden’s art career by constructing an “ethical arrangement” through which they supposedly wouldn’t know who was buying his art. That way they said they wouldn’t be involved in his ‘career.’ But the very act of being involved in such a construction did involve them, thus putting them in the middle of everything that might come out of it. Even the Obama ethics czar, Walter Shaub, raised red flags about how bad this all was.
Now, there’s more to the story. Turns out that the gallery that is handling Hunter’s art got a ton of money as part of a COVID “disaster assistance loan.”
George Berges is the gallery owner. According to the New York Post, SBA records show the gallery lists two employees.
The Georges Berges Gallery initially received a $150,000 COVID “disaster assistance loan” from the Small Business Administration last year, according to public records.
But the loan was recently “revised,” with the SBA approving a further $350,000 to the SoHo gallery this summer, records show.
The approval came on July 26, in the lead-up to Berges’ exclusive marketing of 15 paintings by the president’s scandal-scarred son, public records show.
In addition to the COVID disaster assistance loans, the SoHo gallery received nearly $80,000 in two payments in April 2020 and February 2021 under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, funds meant to help businesses keep up with paychecks to employees during the pandemic.
In other words, after Joe Biden came in, after Berges began working with Hunter Biden and after the White House inserted itself into Hunter’s ‘ethics deal’ at the beginning of July, the gallery’s loan was revised up to receive another $350,000.
Now, is this unusual? Oh yeah.
While there is no evidence President Biden helped secure the fatter disaster relief loan for the gallery, a watchdog group found that of the more than 100 galleries in New York City’s 10th congressional district, which includes SoHo, TriBeCa and Chelsea, the Georges Berges Gallery received “by far” the largest SBA disaster loan windfall.
“We’ve reached a new low in American politics where the President’s son gets his midlife crisis art career subsidized by the American people as part of our pandemic response to COVID,” said Tom Anderson, director of the government integrity project at the National Legal and Policy Center.
The Virginia-based organization this week submitted a complaint to the SBA questioning the the taxpayer-funded loans to the gallery, and noting the discrepancy in the size of its loan when compared to other local galleries.
“You can’t make this up,” Anderson said, adding that funds from the federal loans could have been used to promote Biden’s work — a possible ethical breach. “This is a unique situation in which the president’s son is directly benefiting from federal loans made to a third party,” he said.
So, what’s the White House’s response on this?
The White House claimed they would avoid influence peddling by the arrangement of neither Hunter or Joe Biden knowing who the buyers were of the art. But, really, what it’s become is simply not having the public know who the buyers were. Meanwhile, Hunter was seen hobnobbing with potential buyers at the show this past week, despite the White House’s claim.
While they haven’t yet been grilled on the specific allegation about the COVID money, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Hunter being at the show and mingling with the potential buyers as well as one of Joe Biden’s nominees — for ambassador to India — Eric Garcetti, being at the show, raising those questions yet again about conflicts of interest.
Psaki’s response? She completely avoided answering, saying to ask Berges.
Jen Psaki is grilled FOR TWO MINUTES about Hunter Biden's artwork selling for $500,000:
"I refer you to the gallerist." pic.twitter.com/lpjsbC4gFs
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 6, 2021
Meanwhile, the NY Post reported that the gallery sold five prints of Hunter’s work prior to his LA show for $75,000 each. Berges has denied this. Such prices are completely out of the norm for a new artist, much less for a print. The Washington Post art critic disdainfully said of Hunter’s work it was like “cafe art” and “you wouldn’t—unless you were related to the artist—spend more than $1,000 on it.”