A donor with deep ties to Ukraine loaned Joe Biden’s younger brother half-a-million dollars at the same time the then-vice president oversaw U.S. policy toward the country, according to public records reviewed by POLITICO.
The 2015 loan came as Biden’s brother faced financial difficulties related to his acquisition of a multimillion-dollar vacation home, nicknamed “the Biden Bungalow,” in South Florida.
There is no indication that the loan influenced Joe Biden’s official actions, but it furthers a decades-long pattern, detailed in a POLITICO investigation earlier this month, by which relatives of the former vice president have leaned on his political allies for money and otherwise benefited financially from the Biden name.
Details of the loan are laid out in property records in Collier County, Florida, where Biden’s younger brother, James, and James’ wife Sara, owned until recently a home on Keewaydin Island. The luxurious, six-bed, seven-bath home comes with a guest house and sits on five acres along a pristine, miles-long stretch of sandy beach.
In May 2015, James and Sara Biden took out a second mortgage against the home. The mortgage secured a $500,000 loan they had received from a corporate entity, 1018 PL LLC, that had been registered in Delaware two months earlier.
The documents gave no hint who was behind 1018 PL, but last February, as James and Sara were selling the house, the lender filed a release of the mortgage, a document that discharges a lien in the public land records. The release revealed that 1018 PL LLC was controlled by John Hynansky, a Ukrainian-American businessman and longtime donor to Joe Biden’s campaigns.
"John Hynansky is a longtime friend of the Bidens,” said a spokesman for James and Sara Biden. “He did provide a series of loans during a two-year period while the Bidens were undergoing major renovations of the island home.” The spokesman said that the debt was also secured by James’ and Sara’s primary residence, and that the 6 percent interest they paid was above prevailing market rates. He did not address a question about why they sought financing from Hynansky rather than a financial institution.
The former vice president’s ties to Hynansky date back to at least 1987, when Hynansky and his then-wife, Deanna, cut campaign checks for $1,000 each to support Biden’s first presidential run. A spokesman for the Biden campaign, Andrew Bates, declined to comment for this story.
Hynansky, born in Germany after his parents fled Ukraine during World War II, came to the U.S. as a child in 1949, settling in Delaware. He became a successful car dealer, first in the U.S., then in Post-Cold War Ukraine, earning a reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator who was well-liked by his employees. He also became a major philanthropist of Ukrainian causes in the U.S. and Ukraine, underwriting sports, culture, orphanages and hospitals.
In the early 1990s, when the government of Ukraine lacked the funds to buy the property for a consulate in New York, Hynansky financed the purchase himself.
Over the years, Hynansky and his relatives donated generously to both Republican and Democratic causes. Biden’s campaign coffers have been the largest recipients of their largesse, taking in roughly $100,000, including a $30,800 contribution to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008, according to FEC records.
As a senator, Biden’s campaign occasionally paid, in accordance with Senate ethics rules, for him to make use of a private jet owned by Hynansky’s son, Michael, who has succeeded his father as president of Winner Automotive Group. Michael Hynansky has donated thousands of dollars to Biden, and more recently, to both Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee.
Neither John nor Michael Hynansky responded to emails requesting comment. A person answering the phone at Michael Hynansky’s office said Michael Hynansky would not be commenting.
The Hynanskys and the Bidens also overlapped in the small world of Delaware’s upper crust, where Hynansky’s daughter, Alexandra, grew up as a close friend of the senator’s sons, according to a person who knows both families. Joe Biden was prominently seated at Alexandra Hynansky’s wedding, according to the person, who also attended. "John made a point of noting that Biden was present, and thanked him," the person said.
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