Tag: soninlaw

Biden’s son-in-law faces scrutiny over startup investment

Move over Hunter, now it’s Howard’s turn to face some Biden family conflict-of-interest scrutiny.

Politico reported Tuesday that Joseph R. Biden’s son-in-law Howard Krein served as an informal adviser to his campaign’s COVID-19 response while also being involved in a venture capital firm that set aside $1 million for startups with ideas aimed at addressing the pandemic and others like it.

StartUp Health, the investment firm that employs Mr. Krein, who is married to Mr. Biden’s daughter Ashley, sought to pump money into ideas related to “mitigating, managing, or treating the coronavirus or future pandemics,” according to the company’s website.

Mr. Krein had been involved in daily briefing calls with Mr. Biden, according to Bloomberg and The New York Times.

Around the same time, Politico reported that his venture capital firm announced it was looking to invest $1 million into startup companies with possible coronavirus breakthroughs.

Mr. Biden has already faced scrutiny over allegations that his son, Hunter, scored a cushy position on the board of a Ukranian energy company while his father led the Obama administration’s efforts in Ukraine.

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Biden Son-In-Law Advises Campaign on Pandemic Response while Investing in COVID Startups

Joe Biden’s son-in-law Howard Krein is an informal adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate on the response to the coronavirus pandemic, while simultaneously investing in health-care startups to address the pandemic, Politico reported on Tuesday.

Krein’s venture capital business, StartUp Health, announced in April that it would invest in ten medical startup companies that craft solutions to issues posed by the pandemic. At the same time, Krein was among several individuals speaking with the Biden campaign regarding its health policy.

The initiative by StartUp Health was dubbed the “Pandemic Response Health Moonshot,” language that echoes Biden’s own “Cancer Moonshot” project from his last year in the Obama administration.

Krein’s position raises questions about a possible conflict of interest for the Biden campaign. A campaign official confirmed to Politico that Krein was an informal adviser who has participated in calls with the candidate on pandemic response.

“I have little doubt that the relationship to Joe Biden, particularly if he becomes president, would attract the interest of some investors,” Avik Roy, founder of investment firm Roy Healthcare Research, told Politico. Roy is a former adviser to Senators Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R., Utah).

The news follows a series of disclosures detailing that Biden’s son Hunter pursued while his father was serving as vice president. According to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released in September, “Hunter Biden received millions of dollars from foreign sources as a result of business relationships that he built during the period when his father was vice president of the United States and after.”

In particular, Hunter Biden and his business partner Devon Archer engaged in monetary transactions with Ye Jianming, a Chinese businessman with connections in the Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army. Archer was convicted of defrauding a Native American tribe in 2018, and has a sentencing hearing scheduled for this coming January.

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Questions raised about conflicts of interest around Biden son-in-law

Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMcConnell challenger dodges court packing question ‘Hamilton’ cast to reunite for Biden fundraiser Trump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis MORE’s son-in-law, Howard Krein, has continued his work at an investment firm overseeing health care solutions to COVID-19 while also advising the Biden campaign on the pandemic, sparking potential conflict-of-interest concerns, according to Politico

In March, StartUp Health, where Krein serves as chief medical officer, announced a new initiative to invest in entrepreneurs with various “solutions for mitigating, managing, or treating coronavirus or future pandemics.”

A month later, StartUp Health announced it would be investing $1 million across 10 different startups with potential public health solutions to the coronavirus. 

This came around the same time that Bloomberg and The New York Times both reported Krein among those taking part in daily Biden campaign briefing calls on health policy. 

As noted by Politico on Tuesday, Krein’s involvement in funding for specific coronavirus-centered projects could present a conflict of interest for Biden should he win the presidency in November. 

Politico hypothesized that the U.S. government could spend billions of dollars on nationwide coronavirus responses in 2021, with tens of billions of dollars already spent on COVID-19 testing and vaccine research. 

Since its founding in 2011, StartUp Health had close ties with the Obama administration, which described Krein at the time as a White House adviser, according to Politico. 

Krein reportedly began dating Biden’s daughter, Ashley, in 2010, with the two officially marrying in 2012. 

When contacted by The Hill, a Biden official said that Krein does not serve as a formal adviser to the campaign, although he has occasionally provides his perspective as a health care official working to combat COVID-19 on the front lines. 

However, Avik Roy, founder of investment firm Roy Healthcare Research and a former adviser to the presidential campaigns of Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Barrett hearings take center stage | Trump returns to campaign trail Biden: Faith shouldn’t be a subject in Barrett confirmation fight Nebraska district could prove pivotal for Biden in November MORE (R-Utah) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump Jr. returning to campaign trail after quarantining EXCLUSIVE: Intelligence chief briefed lawmakers of foreign influence threats to Congress Trump Jr., UFC star launch anti-socialism bus tour through South Florida MORE (R-Fla.), told Politico that he had “little doubt” that Krein’s close relationship with Biden, “particularly if he becomes president, would attract the interest of some investors.”

Laura Huang, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies investment processes, told Politico that even a public perception of bias could send a certain message to investors. 

“Sometimes, the perception is all you need. Signaling is very important for startups and investors alike, and one signal is high-profile individuals who can help provide access,” she said. 

Krein’s connection with Biden had been reported earlier this year by conservative commentator and Breitbart News contributor Peter Schweizer in his book “Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of

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Biden’s son-in-law advises campaign on pandemic while investing in Covid-19 startups

“StartUp Health is putting the full support of its platform and network behind building a post-Covid world that uses technology and entrepreneurial ingenuity to improve health outcomes,” the firm said at the time.

Krein simultaneously advising the campaign and venturing into Covid investing could pose conflict-of-interest concerns for a Biden administration, or simply create the awkward appearance of Krein profiting off his father-in-law’s policies. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government has directed tens of billions of dollars in coronavirus medical spending in areas like testing and vaccine research to private firms. It is poised to spend billions more next year and possibly beyond.

The potential conflicts are not limited to the coronavirus for Krein, 53, a Philadelphia-based head-and-neck surgeon who got into venture investing not long after he began dating Biden’s daughter, Ashley, in 2010.

Since StartUp Health’s 2011 launch, when Krein came on as its chief medical officer, it has invested in more than 300 health care businesses, according to its website, which prominently features the term “moonshot” to describe its investment goals — language that echoes that of Joe Biden’s own signature Cancer Moonshot initiative. In its early years, the firm enjoyed close ties to the Obama administration and described Krein as a White House adviser.

“I have little doubt that the relationship to Joe Biden, particularly if he becomes president, would attract the interest of some investors,” said Avik Roy, founder of Roy Healthcare Research, an investment research firm, and a former adviser to the presidential campaigns of Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

StartUpHealth did not respond to interview requests, and the Biden campaign declined to make Krein or others tied to the company available for interviews. In response to questions, a campaign official said that Krein does not have a formal role with the campaign, but acknowledged that he had participated in calls briefing Biden on coronavirus based on his experience treating patients and coordinating his hospital’s response to the outbreak.

Even informal input or the perception of access can be valuable in health care, a heavily regulated sector that is influenced by federal policy and spending priorities.

“Sometimes the perception is all you need,” said Laura Huang, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies the early-stage investment process. “Signaling is very important for startups and investors alike, and one signal is high-profile individuals who can help provide access.”

Roy said the firm’s Biden ties could also help it land stakes in hot startups that can be choosy about the investors they take money from. “Those companies will take your calls,” he said. “People who are plugged in have an advantage, and that is a common feature of a lot of heavily regulated industries.”

The influence concerns posed by the firm are compounded by its foreign ties. One StartUp Health fund raised $31 million from investors, including the Swiss drugmaker Novartis and the Chinese insurer Ping An, in 2018. The firm’s website also lists the Chinese technology conglomerate

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Carolyn Hax: Daughter withdraws when parents need help, so son-in-law steps up

My in-laws are now in their 80s, and Dad has Alzheimer’s. Mom is near exhaustion from caregiving, and I now see a patient, sweet person snap at him frequently. We’re at the point where my wife and I should be pitching in.

I’m over there often to fix broken stuff, do heavy cleaning, etc., however it appears my wife’s expectation of “helping” consisted solely of driving them to appointments and grabbing meals — needs that rarely pop up.

I think Mom needs regular breaks. I’ve suggested to my wife that she pick a time every couple of weeks to work from her parents’ home and give her mom a few hours of free time. Those suggestions have been met with bluster and no action. I’d gladly do it myself, but my wife will resentfully insist on going in my place. Wife and I communicate well, but this situation presents some novel challenges.

Son-in-Law: I could say they won the in-law lottery. Good for you.

This veers into no-good-son-in-law-goes-unpunished territory, but I suggest you gladly do this yourself anyway — and when your wife tries to go resentfully in your place, insist this is what you want to do, solo. Then go. Own this fully as your labor of love, not as hers that you’re heroically covering for her.

I have two reasons for suggesting this, one straightforward and one more calculated (for a good cause, of course).

The straightforward reason is that you’re the one who deems this important, and you incurred half of this parental debt of gratitude anyway, so, just go repay it. Go give Mom these breaks.

The calculated reason is that it’s possible, given your wife’s bluster, she’s having some emotional, dread-based paralysis. This is heavy, stressful caregiving and it’s her dad who’s slipping away, which can make the stress even worse. Some reflexively rise to an occasion like that, as you and your mother-in-law apparently did; for others, the reflex is to recoil from it.

In those cases, though, time and exposure and familiarity can gradually coax someone out to help. So if your wife is just balking, then your taking the lead and getting the routine established might be the nudge she needs to do this sans resentment.

Or not, in which case you keep doing it because it’s the right thing and you’re the right person for the job, which frees her to find a better role for herself. She might be the right person to, say, vet and hire professional caregivers, pay bills, manage schedules, wrangle insurance. There’s typically a lot more work for everyone to divvy up before you start to have less.

Even if she never matches your effort here, it’s still better to have the “wrong” person step up than no one at all — right? Envision how you’ll feel about your choices when this is behind you, and make them from there.

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Berrios son-in-law indicted in bribery scheme involving ex-state Rep. Luis Arroyo

The son-in-law of onetime Cook County Democratic boss Joseph Berrios has been indicted for his alleged role in a bribery scheme that brought down ex-state Rep. Luis Arroyo and exposed a shadowy lobbying effort to expand sweepstakes gaming machines.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Ex-Rep. Luis Arroyo, left, and his attorney Michael Gillespie, walk out of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse after pleading not guilty in his arraignment on corruption charges, Feb. 4, 2020.

© Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Ex-Rep. Luis Arroyo, left, and his attorney Michael Gillespie, walk out of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse after pleading not guilty in his arraignment on corruption charges, Feb. 4, 2020.

James Weiss, 41, was charged in a superseding indictment made public Friday with bribery, wire fraud, mail fraud, and lying to the FBI. Weiss is married to Berrios’ daughter, former state Rep. Toni Berrios.

The indictment also added new wire and mail fraud charges against Arroyo, who was originally charged in October 2019 with one count of federal program bribery and had been on track to plead guilty.

According to the charges, Arroyo agreed to pay a state senator $2,500 a month in kickbacks in exchange for the senator’s support on legislation involving video gambling sweepstakes games that would benefit Weiss, who was in the sweepstakes business and was one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients.

The senator has not been named in court documents, but the Chicago Tribune has reported he is Terry Link, a Vernon Hills Democrat who resigned from office before pleading guilty to tax evasion charges last month.

Both Weiss and Arroyo will be arraigned on the new indictment at a later date.

Weiss’ involvement in the bribery probe was first reported by the Tribune last year after the the FBI raided Weiss’ business offices. He declined to comment on his role in the investigation at the time, telling a reporter outside his River Grove home, “I have no idea what’s going on.”

The case centers on the largely uncharted world of sweepstakes machines, sometimes called “gray machines,” which allow customers to put in money, receive a coupon to redeem for merchandise online and then play electronic games like slot machines.

Since the machines can be played for free, they are not considered gambling devices. Critics, however, contend the unregulated devices, which operate in cities like Chicago that have banned video gambling, are designed to skirt the law.

According to prosecutors, the then-state senator — identified only as CW-1 — had told the FBI that Arroyo approached him about “the passage of sweepstakes-related legislation” during the House’s 2019 spring session.

At the time, Arroyo was a manager of a lobbying firm called Spartacus 3 LLC, which included Weiss’ company as a client.

In early August, Arroyo texted the senator asking to meet at a restaurant in Highland Park, according to the complaint. Also at the meeting was Weiss as well as one of Weiss’ associates.

During the meeting, Arroyo said he was going to introduce a “trailer bill” in the veto session expanding the use of sweepstakes games and offered to make periodic payments to the senator in exchange for his support, according to the complaint.

Three weeks later, the senator was

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US imposes sanctions on Cuba’s Raul Castro’s son-in-law

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is targeting the son-in-law of retired Cuban leader Raul Castro with sanctions as it steps up its campaign against the communist island’s government ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.

The departments of State and Treasury announced Wednesday that Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, the husband of Castro’s daughter, Deborah, had been added to the U.S. list of “specially designated nationals and blocked persons.” The agencies accused him of helping to fund human rights abuses and working in concert with Venzuela to suppress Cubans’ freedoms.

López-Calleja is the head of the Cuban military’s financial arm, known as GAESA, which controls state-owned businesses including hotels, factories, stores and an airline. The move freezes any assets he may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bars Americans from doing business with him.

“The revenue generated from the economic activities of GAESA is used to oppress the Cuban people and to fund Cuba’s parasitic, colonial domination of Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “Today’s action demonstrates the United States’ long-standing commitment to ending economic practices that disproportionately benefit the Cuban government or its military, intelligence, and security agencies or personnel at the expense of the Cuban and Venezuelan people.”

The announcement is the administration’s latest action against Cuba and comes just two days after it imposed sanctions on a debit card operation that allowed Cubans to buy food, appliances and other items with money sent by relatives in the United States.

On Monday, Pompeo announced that FINCIMEX, a Cuban state company that processes remittances and issues the American International Services debit card, had been added to the sanctions list. The government began accepting the card for purchases in July amid the coronavirus pandemic that worsened the lack of food on the island and sparked long lines for goods. It became so popular that FINCIMEX temporarily stopped accepting applications in mid-August but resumed them this month.

The administration has been steadily ramping up pressure on both Cuba and Venezuela as November’s vote nears, with President Donald Trump in tight race for re-election against former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump is seeking votes from anti-Castro Cuban-Americans in Florida and elsewhere, and has sought to paint Biden as soft on the Cuban government. Biden was vice president when former President Barack Obama and Raul Castro initiated a rapprochement in U.S.-Cuban relations.

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