Former Vice President Joe Biden went to great lengths to boost his son-in-law’s health care company while in the White House, briefing investors on the firm’s merits and even arranging access to the Oval Office. The bombshell revelations are detailed in Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite — a new book by Peter Schweizer, a senior contributor at Breitbart News and the president of the Government Accountability Institute.
In June 2011, Biden arranged a private meeting for two StartUp Health executives with then-President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. At the time of the meeting, the company had been around for only a few weeks. It had yet to finalize its business plan, let alone develop a website.
The meeting was all the more surprising since StartUp Health was not proposing any new or radical ideas for health care, at least not to the degree of warranting a meeting with the nation’s commander-in-chief.
“Their status as a health care incubator was hardly unique,” Schweizer writes in Profiles in Corruption. “In fact, there were thirty-one similar companies operating in the state of California alone, and another eleven in the state of New York.”
As Schweizer outlines, the only significant factor that set StartUp Health apart from others in its field was that its chief medical officer, Howard Krein, was engaged to Biden’s daughter, Ashley. Krein, a head and neck doctor by training, seemed to have become an integral part of Biden’s inner-circle even before he officially wed into the family in June 2012.
One day after StartUp Health’s executives met with Obama in the Oval Office, the company got a bigger boost from the administration when it was featured at a health care tech conference put on by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). How the company managed to score HHS attention, while still in the stages of infancy, remains unclear, but it is likely Biden played a role.
Regardless, the back-to-back events gave StartUp Health a launch trajectory unavailable to other companies in the health care field, let alone other industries. Biden’s influence ensured that StartUp Health set out with “the winds to our backs,” as one of the company’s co-founders succinctly put it.
The former vice president’s efforts on his son-in-law’s behalf were not just confined to the company’s launch. As Profiles in Corruption details, Biden went out of his way to ensure StartUp Health executives were given unparalleled access to the White House during the Obama presidency. The company’s leadership, which mostly consisted of Krein’s family and friends, frequently met with administration officials not only in private but also in public.
“According to 2011 White House visitors’ logs, Howard Krein attended the China State Dinner, a White House Staff barbecue, and President Obama’s Motown event,” Schweizer writes. “His brother, Steven, had half a dozen other meetings with White House officials.”
Biden’s efforts on behalf of the company expansively increased during his final year in office, both internationally and at home.
First, the vice president took Krein with him on Air Force Two to a conference on regenerative health hosted by Pope Francis at the Vatican in April 2016.
“Conference attendees included a who’s who of scientific researchers in medicine from around the world,” Schweizer notes.
Then in May, Krein was tasked with introducing his father-in-law at a major health industry data conference hosted by the Obama administration. The opportunity provided free publicity to the company as it planned to expand its portfolio.
In October 2016, Biden appeared alongside StartUp Health’s CEO at the Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Innovation Summit. During his remarks, Biden praised StartUp Health as an innovator in the health care market and claimed companies like it would be essential to winning the battle against cancer.
Apart from arranging access and touting the company in public, Biden also took steps in the waning days of the Obama administration to boost investment in StartUp Health. In January 2017, Biden made one of his final appearances as vice president at a festival hosted by the company in San Francisco, California. At the event, Biden lauded StartUp Health’s success to 250 attendees, including members and prospective donors.
Ironically, at the same time he was working to promote his son-in-law’s business, Biden was also claiming his children had chosen careers unlikely to make them rich.
“I wish my kids would become wealthy,” Biden told the International Association of Fire Fighters in July 2012 while lambasting the economic policies of then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Profile in Corruption outlines how Biden’s children and other members of his family did just that while he was in political office.