Earlier this month, the White House reportedly reached an agreement with Hunter Biden’s art dealer stipulating that all information related to the sale of the First Son’s artwork—including prices and the names of buyers—would be kept confidential.
It was said that the agreement would prevent bad actors from buying works of art as a way to curry favor with the president. But the move quickly proved to be controversial, with skeptics fearing that the lack of transparency could actually encourage lobbyists, foreign officials, and others to clandestinely exert influence. (The day after news of the agreement broke, a conspiracy theorist vandalized Biden’s gallery.)
Now, a Republican member of the House of Representatives is aiming to do away with the secrecy surrounding Hunter Biden’s burgeoning art career for good. Florida Congressman Mike Waltz introduced a new bill today that would require current and future presidents (and vice presidents) to disclose their adult children’s finances. Its not-so-subtle name is the Preventing Anonymous Income by Necessitating Transparency of Executive Relatives—or PAINTER—Act.
“Under this administration, we have witnessed shameless attempts to profit off Joe Biden’s presidency that jeopardize the integrity of the White House,” the first-term Congressman said in a statement. “Despite the Biden administration’s silence on this issue, American citizens have a right to know who is attempting to purchase access to the White House through an ‘artist,’ Hunter Biden, with no established credentials to warrant such enormous profits.”
The GOP’s concern with the finances of presidential children and profiting from the president’s name comes as sharp U-turn from the tenure of the previous administration, during which Donald Trump actually gave official positions to both son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, even as both continued to make money from their private interests.
Trump himself refused to divest from his business interests upon taking office, leaving sons Eric and Donald, Jr. in charge. Earlier this month, the Trump Organization was charged by the Manhattan DA of running a 15-year scheme to help executives avoid taxes, in what general council Carey Dunne called a “sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme.”
The introduction of the PAINTER Act also comes against the backdrop of the January 6 Commission testimony in the House, featuring witnesses describing the events of January’s violent assault on the Capitol building by Trump supporters.
The “enormous profits” Waltz mentioned refer to the price tags that Biden’s dealer, Georges Bergès, has said will accompany his works. Last month, the dealer told Artnet News that prices for Biden’s work range from $75,000 for works on paper to $500,000 for large-scale paintings.
The PAINTER Act would serve as an amendment to the 1978 Ethics in Government Act, which currently requires the president and vice president to disclose the finances of their underage, dependent children.
Waltz told Fox News, which first reported the bill, that the piece of legislation is meant to stop what he says is “the obvious and shameless grift that’s going on with Hunter Biden’s art sales, for which he is obviously not qualified to do and is only doing to continue to profit off of his family name.”
The Congressman also said that Bergès’s alleged ties to collectors in China “pose a national security problem.”
The PAINTER Act will now go before a vote in the House of Representatives.