CEOs claim Biden’s brother promised them 2020 candidate would help their companies

Edward Helmore
Photograph: Michael Dwyer/AP

James Biden, brother of Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, is facing renewed claims that he lured potential business associates with promises his brother could be influenced to adopt their business model.

According to sworn declarations contained in a court filing in Tennessee, James Biden told potential partners at two medical services companies that his brother Joe would help their companies land lucrative contracts with the court system.

Executives at Azzam Medical Services and Diverse Medical Management, firms that provide rural healthcare solutions, claim they were told by the younger Biden sibling that his brother would incorporate their healthcare model into his presidential campaign.

The allegations against James Biden are not new, and follow claims that Biden’s son Hunter offered access to his father to help Chinese companies establish high-level influence in the US. But the latest accounts go further in establishing that Biden’s relatives have sought to profit from his public service.

Azzam and Diverse Medical first sued James Biden in June, claiming he had used his influence in a scheme to bankrupt their model of medical care that offered rural residents treatment for opioid addiction, mental health issues, veterans’ issues, and sexual trauma.

Diverse Medical chief executive Michael Frey testified that during a presentation in January 2018, James Biden “interrupted me to say: ‘My brother needs to have you in every court system in America.’”

In another declaration, James Biden promised “that the DMM psychiatric care model would be used by Joe Biden as part of his campaign,” claimed Mohannad Azzam of Azzam Medical Services.

In another phone call late last year, Azzam claimed: “James Biden mentioned that his brother’s connections to labor unions and the Department of Veterans Affairs would help DMM expand its model nationwide.”

In a third declaration, Diverse Medical’s former general counsel Mitchell Cohen alleges that James Biden claimed his brother’s connections at the Department of Veterans Affairs could help the firm land contracts with the department and, based on his connections with unions, help win contracts with first responders.

The allegations do not include any claims that Joe Biden knew anything of the claims his brother is alleged to have made.

The latest allegations conform with claims of influence-peddling offered by executives at a hedge fund once owned by James Biden and his nephew Hunter, according to Politico.

James Biden has denied engaging in any scheme to defraud the companies, saying he and his wife, Sara, have “a long-held and passionate commitment” to improving access to addiction and post-traumatic services in rural areas.

Political ethicist Richard Painter said Joe Biden needs to make it clear that he will not be influenced by family ties.

Painter said: “If he wins the nomination Biden needs to make concrete promises that if he’s elected president he will insulate his administration from anyone in his family whose trying to make money, and that includes his brother and his son.”

Donald Trump has been roundly criticized for not distancing himself enough from his business interests, which are still run by his children. He has also faced widespread accusations that he has used the presidency to boost the Trump family business.

The latest scrutiny of Biden’s family comes as a Monmouth University poll suggested Biden’s frontrunner status had been cut and the race for the democratic nomination was now a dead heat between Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. But pollsters have warned of the poll’s small sampling and large margin of error.