Joe Biden is facing a major conflict-of-interest issue. While his son-in-law, Howard Krein has been informally advising on his presidential campaign in regards to Coronavirus he has also been investing in multiple healthcare startups focusing on Coronavirus vaccines and solutions. Krein’s investment firm, StartUp Health, began a new Coronavirus initiative in March that focuses on producing products to combat the virus. The following month Krein was listed as a member participating in daily phone calls with Biden briefing him on health policy during the pandemic. At that same time StartUp Health pledged to commit $1 million across 10 health startup focusing on COVID-19 in 30 days.
Joe Biden has claimed that he keeps all family business dealings completely separate from his work, in a statement from 2019 Biden said, “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses. Period. And what I will do is the same thing we did in our administration. There will be an absolute wall between personal and private [business interests] and the government.”
However, the investment firm has worked closely with the Obama-Biden administration in the past, even holding a meeting with Obama and Biden in the Oval Office ahead of their launch.
In reports from Politico:
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.).
If Joe Biden is elected President this connection could pose major implications for millions of Americans still suffering from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Biden could easily focus funds towards Krein’s health startup producing a vaccine and shift billions in funds from other companies competing to put out a vaccine and easily make policies that could favor Krein’s firm.
You want to tell me Biden isn’t going to forego research and vaccine studies from other groups in favor of the one his son in law is investing and enriching himself in?
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 14, 2020
The health industry is highly regulated and heavily influenced by federal spending. The clear ties to Biden would easily be enough to attract outside investors to flock to StartUpHealth, especially If Krein were to gain an inside track on policymakers’ intentions.
The idea of influence is not the only cause for concern. StartUp Health also is heavily tied to multiple foreign governments, specifically China. According to the firm’s website the Chinese tech conglomerate, Tencent is listed as a “co-investor” and has connections to Chinese insurer Ping An.