One of Joe Biden’s closest aides as vice president, who later joined a Washington-based firm founded by an executive with ties to China’s Communist Party and did deals with Biden’s son Hunter — visited the White House at least seven times over a two-year period.
Francis Person — better known as “Franny” to the Biden family, whom Jill Biden has said is “like a son” to her and Joe — visited the White House multiple times in 2015 and 2016, including a holiday reception in December 2015 with Chinese executive Bo Zhang, official logs viewed by The Post show.
Person, who left his role as then-Vice President Biden’s personal aide in 2014, went on to work with Hunter Biden and his business partner Eric Schwerin in deals with the Harves Group and later became president of the Washington-based firm.
The linkage between someone so enmeshed at one time in President Biden’s inner circle and his son’s business dealings comes amid fresh scrutiny of what if any knowledge the elder Biden has had of his son’s overseas dealings.
The tight ties between Person and the Bidens date back to Joe’s time in the Senate. He left the President Obama-Biden administration in 2014 to take an advisory role at his alma mater, the University of Carolina, Politico reported at the time.
“Fran has been like a son to Joe and me,” Dr. Jill Biden told the outlet. “For eight years, we traveled the country, shared holidays together … Fran may be leaving the office, but he will always be a part of our family.”
Person first introduced Hunter Biden to the Harves Group in July 2015 while inviting him to meet Zhang and his family in China, according to emails from Hunter’s abandoned laptop.
“You could bring the family,” Person wrote Hunter on July 28, 2015. “I would bring my girls. It would be a great distraction.”
Person went on to say that Zhang’s family would host them and spoke of the executive’s high-level connections in China.
“They are a great family with great respect and relationships in China,” Person’s email continued. “Bo graduated from American Univ and is in his late 20’s, and his parents own Harves Century Group of Shenyang — which is a top tier private chinese real estate development firm.”
Zhang was being “groomed to take over his family’s dynasty,” Person wrote, but insisted the trip wasn’t about a “partnership or selling” Hunter Biden on anything, the email shows.
“We just want to grow that relationship, and there will be plenty of big things that come down the road that we can work on,” Person’s email continued.
Zhang’s father-in-law, Liu Cigui, was later elected as secretary of the Communist Party in Hainan province in 2017. He’s seen as a loyalist to Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to Fox News.
Harves Century Group, the China-based real estate development firm owned by Zhang’s parents, has the backing of state-owned China Development Bank. It’s also the parent company of several US-based affiliates, including Harves Investment Group, Harves Sports and Harves Global Entertainment.
Person now serves as the cofounder and CEO of Harves Global Entertainment, according to his LinkedIn page.
“Helped guide the formation of the Harves Group headquartered in Washington DC, serving as the U.S. affiliate of Harves,” reads a description on Person’s profile. “In this role, led the efforts in creating new business by establishing global partnerships.”
There’s no indication that Hunter Biden made the trip to China that Person suggested in 2015, but Hunter had introduced Zhang as a “good friend and business colleague” the following summer to Henry Zhao of Harvest Fund Management.
Zhao, a Communist Party official, was a key figure for Biden prospects in China. His firm participated in a Chinese investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST, The Post has previously reported.
Hunter Biden even introduced his father to a company exec in December 2013 as father and son flew to Beijing on Air Force Two.
Hunter Biden’s attorney, George Mesires, said in October 2019 that Hunter would be resigning his seat from BHR’s board without any return on his investment or shareholder distributions. But Hunter still owned a stake in the fund – believed to be 10%, The Post reported in January.
Also copied on Hunter’s May 2016 introduction of Zhang to Zhao was the nephew of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who worked closely with Hunter Biden in his Chinese business deals.
Years earlier, Jim Bulger, chairman and co-founder of the Boston-based Thornton Group financial advisory firm, forwarded an email from associate Mike Leonard proposing a meeting among Hunter Biden — whose father, Joe Biden, at the time was vice president of the United States — Bulger, and Rosemont Seneca co-founder Devon Archer.
The email sent on Jan. 27, 2014 — with a subject line that read, “Meeting with Chinese Ambassador” — suggested the group meet in Washington, DC, to “talk about the fund,” according to the message.
Archer, Biden’s business partner at Rosemont Seneca, replied hours later that he was “providing notes to the Embassy” on the purpose of the meeting and to confirm if timing was “possible,” according to the message.
It’s unclear, however, if that proposed meeting ever took place.
In 2013, Thornton Group teamed up with Rosemont Seneca to launch a joint venture with Chinese investment firm Bohai Capital to form BHR Partners, which is controlled by the Bank of China Limited.
Archer, Hunter Biden’s former business partner, was sentenced to a year in prison in February for his role in a scheme to defraud a Native American tribe of $60 million in bonds.
Francis Person, meanwhile, had also met with his sister, Anne Marie Person, during his 2015 and 2016 White House visits — as well as Steve Ricchetti, Biden’s then-chief of staff and current White House counselor, official logs show.
Just a year earlier, Anne Marie Person left Hunter Biden’s Rosemont Seneca Partners to join then-Vice President Joe Biden’s staff.
Rosemont Seneca and its affiliates have since come under scrutiny as the Department of Justice probes Hunter’s foreign dealings as part of a possible tax fraud probe.
Hunter Biden secured meetings with top state-linked Chinese companies while working for Rosemont during trips to Beijing as his dad was veep — and one Rosemont affiliate allegedly received a mysterious $3.5 million payment from the wife of a Russian mayor, according to a Senate report.
Reached for comment regarding the visits, Person told Fox News he was merely “visiting colleagues and friends” from his time with the administration.
“Those visits were personal in nature, visiting with old colleagues and friends whom I served with during my six years working there, and completely unrelated to my work with Harves Entertainment which was creating experiences and attractions with iconic brands across the sports and entertainment industry,” Person said.
Person did not indicate whether he or Zhang spoke with or met administration officials outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to discuss Harves-related deals. Hunter’s Rosemont Seneca held financial interests in multiple Harves affiliates, Fox Business previously reported.
But Person’s meetings at the White House have long been public, a White House official told Fox News while taking a shot at former President Trump.
“These are all meetings that have been public for years because both the Obama-Biden Administration and this administration released visitor records for the sake of transparency — a practice discontinued during the Trump years,” the source said.