An investor recently embroiled in a years-long legal battle has reportedly purchased $500,000 worth of ads against former Vice President Joe Biden that attempts to tie the 2020 candidate to allegations of corruption in a Delaware court.
Though it’s reportedly scheduled to air in Delaware and the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Shirley Shawe, a registered Republican who purchased the ad and had dealings with the Chancery Court, said its focus is less on the presidential race.
Rather, its goal is “to raise public awareness related to the current state of one of America’s most powerful business courts, and to encourage the candidates to drive reform,” she told HuffPost in an email on Thursday.
The video, using footage from 2005, inaccurately depicts Biden as advocating for the Chancery Court during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on overhauling the nation’s bankruptcy laws. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, his now 2020 rival, was a Harvard Law School bankruptcy professor at the time and testified against the overhaul. Biden, a then Delaware senator, supported it.
Biden took issue with Warren’s criticism of the bankruptcy court system, though while vocalizing this he misspoke, and uttered the wrong court’s name.
“Is the colleague suggesting that the Delaware Chancery Court is not open?” Biden asks Warren, as seen in the ad. “I find it outrageous, such a statement. Maybe you can tell me. Is it not a competent court? Is it not an open court?”
This edited video is misleading, however, as it does not include Warren’s subsequent correction of Biden: She points out that he meant Delaware’s bankruptcy courts and not the Chancery Court, which reviews disputes involving corporations and business’ internal affairs, not bankruptcy.
Without including this note of Biden correcting himself, the video suggests that he was defending the Chancery Court, which, the video notes, has faced public oversight criticism.
Shawe’s ad buy follows a pricey legal dispute in Chancery Court over the ownership of her son’s translation software company, Transperfect Global Inc., of which Shawe owns a 1% share, according to Delaware Business Now.
The case ended with the court allowing Shawe’s son the right to buy out his co-founder’s share. It also ended with Shawe spending more than $250 million in legal fees over the last five years, unjustifiably, she argued.
She told HuffPost that she is still being billed “outrageous sums” per month and that she is “required to pay these bills by court order, yet we are not allowed to see them, or even know what this work is for.
A spokesperson for Biden’s election committee, reached by HuffPost, urged that the video be removed because of its misrepresentation.
“The ad misrepresents Vice President Biden’s position in this exchange from 2005 by manipulating footage to suggest he means one court when he means another,” Biden campaign national press secretary Jamal Brown said in a statement. “It’s a clear reminder of the way that third-party money poisons our politics with false attack ads, and it has no place in this race.”
Shawe denied that the video is misleading, however, insisting in an email that “Mr. Biden is clearly talking about the Chancery Court. He mentions it by name.”
A spokesperson for Warren’s campaign also wants the video to be removed.
“Elizabeth does not believe individual donors should have an outsized influence in this primary, and has consistently said that Super PACs or individuals with the means to finance ad campaigns on their own should stay out of the primary,” said deputy communications director Chris Hayden in an email.
Shawe, when asked, said she does not support a 2020 candidate at this time.