A law firm’s advertisement touting its connection to President Joe Biden has raised ethics questions, creating a nuisance for the new administration in its first couple of weeks in power.
In a two-page “advertorial” in the Florida-based Daily Business Review, Berman Law Group boasted that one of its senior advisers, Frank Biden, is a brother of the president. A copy of the roughly 1,000-word ad, which ran on Inauguration Day, was obtained by CNBC and The Washington Post.
In its ad, the firm linked its class action lawsuit against sugar cane growers to the president’s pro-environment positions.
“The two Biden brothers have long held a commitment to pushing environmental issues to the forefront,” the ad stated, adding that the “lawsuit against Big Sugar is just another example of how the two brothers’ core environmental beliefs align.”
The ad, which was formatted to resemble a news story, muddied Biden’s efforts to have one of the most ethically sound administrations in history. Politico reported Thursday that Biden had warned his family members ― specifically Frank, his youngest brother ― against any business dealings that would create apparent conflicts of interest for his administration.
“For Christ’s sake, watch yourself,” Joe Biden allegedly told his brother. “Don’t get sucked into something that would, first of all, hurt you.”
Asked to confirm Politico’s report during a press briefing Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she would not discuss the president’s private conversations with family members but reiterated the administration’s relevant policy on the matter.
“It’s the White House’s policy that the president’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities to suggest ... in any way that could be reasonably understood to imply his endorsement or support,” she said.
The White House declined to comment to the Post about whether the ad violated such a policy. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Biden knew about the ad before its publication.
Neither the White House nor Berman Law Group immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Biden and his campaign aides frequently targeted the Trump administration for its plethora of apparent ethics transgressions, including the promotion of Goya products, numerous Hatch Act violations and brazen political favors.
Republicans have accused Biden’s younger son, Hunter Biden, of using his political connections in his previous business dealings in Ukraine and China while his father was vice president. A Republican-led investigation into the matter last year found no evidence of improper influence or wrongdoing by Joe Biden.