A new book says President Biden’s father got a job in the 1980s at a scandal-plagued union group that continued to collect federal funds despite concern among officials in DC about financial irregularities.
Joe Biden Sr.’s role with the Council for Labor and Industry (CLI) in Philadelphia is not widely known and may represent an early instance of the Biden family cashing in on the senator-turned-president’s power — preceding examples involving first son Hunter Biden and the president’s brother Jim Biden.
“The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power,” by Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger, hits shelves Tuesday and includes an account of the elder Biden’s late-career transition in the 1970s from used car salesman to real estate agent.
Biden Sr. at first found success selling properties in Delaware, but when the early-’80s recession and housing slump hit, “he landed a client with less exposure to market forces,” according to an excerpt of the book shared with The Post.
The CLI was a quasi-governmental organization run by union members with public financing, ostensibly to promote employment. The organization and its members were dogged by accusations of illegal behavior.
Biden Sr. is believed to have worked with the group for at least 4 1/2 years — during which time the US Commerce Department’s inspector’s general office in 1985 alleged misconduct and recommended a cessation of federal funding, the book says.
The funding was not cut off, however. It’s unclear what role if any then-Sen. Biden played in that decision.
The book says “investigators at the US Commerce Department’s Inspector General’s Office discovered financial irregularities and recommended that the department cut off its funding to the council, but they were overruled by superiors.”
Congress has oversight powers and can exercise indirect influence over federal agencies, though the Republican Reagan administration controlled the executive branch at the time.
Later, when CLI collapsed under further scandal, “the US Department of Housing and Urban Development weighed in with a report that faulted the city Commerce Department for failing to keep the council in check.”
Biden Sr. placed a series of newspaper ads — signed J.R. Biden — in the Philadelphia Inquirer in December 1981 and January 1982 on behalf of CLI, offering to rent space at a warehouse complex, the book says.
CLI operated the Wissahickon Industrial Center in Philadelphia at the time. In 1981, Philadelphia officials axed CLI’s contract to store city voting machines at the facility because of water leaks and faulty temperature control — apparently explaining the available space on offer by the elder Biden.
Biden, first elected to the US Senate from Delaware in 1972, is a long-time ally to labor unions, including in Pennsylvania. In 1979 he was the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s keynote speaker for its annual dinner in Philadelphia.
CLI was originally known as the Council for Revitalization of Employment and Industry in Philadelphia — or CREIP — but was renamed after James Mahoney, a state AFL-CIO official who was treasurer for the CLI, was indicted on tax and mail fraud charges in late 1979. He pleaded guilty to offering contracts to businesses if they did free work on his home.
The rebranded CLI faced many subsequent legal issues. In 1982, the union group owed $500,000 in unpaid city taxes
According to businessman Rich Thoma, who worked with CLI, Biden Sr. was still working at the group’s headquarters in June 1986.
Thoma told Schreckinger that he saw Biden at the office the same day that CLI’s then-executive director James Toomey allegedly attempted to extort him by saying that a dispute over loan terms could be resolved if he gave the organization a stake in his hard disk storage company, called People & Technology. Toomey has since died.
CLI folded after losing the support of Pennsylvania Democrats.
In 1989, a nonprofit contractor accused the organization of misconduct and state labor secretary Harris Wofford — a future Democratic US senator — called for criminal probes. The city cut off funds.
The White House did not offer comment on this story.
“The Bidens” contains other reporting on the often murky links between Biden and his family’s business ventures, which drew harsh coverage in last year’s presidential campaign — most notably for apparent connections between the then-candidate and his son’s business relationships in Ukraine and China.
According to a book excerpt published by The Post, Jim Biden openly boasted about selling influence to his older brother as he and Hunter Biden sought to take over a hedge fund based in New York.
“Don’t worry about investors,” he allegedly told a corporate executive “We’ve got people all around the world who want to invest in Joe Biden… We’ve got investors lined up in a line of 747s ﬁlled with cash ready to invest in this company.”