Former Vice President Joe Biden may be the Democratic frontrunner once again, but his family scandals are not going away anytime soon. His son Hunter notoriously traded on the family name for cash in Ukraine (Burisma, anyone?) and China (no, it’s not just Burisma). Biden’s younger brother Frank reportedly traded on the vice president’s name for prominence in a charter school company that went belly-up. His other brother, James Biden, is fighting lawsuits involving alleged misdealings with medical companies across the country.
James Biden stands accused of using false promises of Biden’s political sway and Middle East cash to direct a medical company’s business and convince it to extend him a six-figure loan. The company, Americore, runs rural hospitals in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Missouri, and the FBI raided one in January. Americore is in bankruptcy court, so James Biden’s disputed involvement has become a matter of public interest.
On Monday, POLITICO published an expose of James Biden’s dealings with Americore, drawing attention to the bankruptcy, the FBI raid, and the potential fallout for the former vice president’s 2020 campaign.
“In 2017 and 2018, James Biden was embarking on a foray into healthcare investing, telling potential partners, including at Americore, that his last name could open doors and that Joe Biden was excited about the public policy implications of their business models, according to court filings and interviews with former business contacts of James’s,” POLITICO‘s Ben Schreckinger reported. The hospital raid and the bankruptcy proceedings may not be directly related to James Biden’s work, but sources suggest they are.
Tom Pritchard, a former Americore executive familiar with the firm’s finances, said James Biden promised the company a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections. The former VP’s brother introduced Americore’s founder to Joe Biden and helped land a bridge loan to Americore from a hedge fund. James Biden later received a six-figure personal loan from Americore’s coffers while encouraging the firm to take on greater financial liabilities.
The cash from the Middle East never arrived, however, and the vice president’s brother has not paid back the loan, Pritchard told POLITICO. “It was all smoke and mirrors,” Pritchard said.
Last year, two Tennessee medical services companies sued James Biden and his business partners, including Americore’s founder and CEO Grant White, alleging that Biden and his partners promised a large Middle East investment, pushing the firms to make expensive acquisitions as part of a scheme to drive them out of business and steal their business models. Those firms claimed James Biden cited his family’s political connections and promised the former vice president would promote their health care model as part of his 2020 campaign.
These plaintiffs described James Biden as a principal of Americore and presented a business card identifying him as such into evidence. Biden disputed that he is a principal of the firm, although he has not detailed the precise nature of his ties to Americore.
Pritchard and another former Americore executive who remained anonymous said that the former VP’s brother was actively involved in the company. “Jim was operating as a principal or Jim was portraying that,” Pritchard recalled.
James Biden first got involved with Americore in 2017, offering his political contacts to help the firm, Pritchard said. “He could get us in front of the unions. He could get us in front of certain people in government. He could get us in front of the right people.”
The anonymous former executive said Biden would frequently promise that his brother’s presidential aspirations could help the firm. “His brother was very interested in rural health care and very interested in veterans’ health care, and it was something he really wanted to get behind,” the former executive recalled James Biden saying. “This would help his brother get elected if it were to take off and go.”
After Biden received his loan from Americore, he reduced his involvement with the firm, Pritchard claimed. “Jim needed to lay low because his brother was possibly running for president, and he didn’t need any bad press.”
Former business partners engaged in litigation against Americore have blamed White for the firm’s collapsing finances, and the Justice Department’s designated trustee also accused White of mismanagement. Yet the companies suing James Biden in Tennessee motioned to drop White as a defendant in their case on February 18. Those plaintiffs said White had given them incriminating evidence about the other parties, including James Biden.
“White has provided to Plaintiffs voluminous electronic evidence exonerating him in this Action and demonstrating that he too was a victim of the fraudulent actions of Defendants James Biden [and others] … including documents indicating that millions of dollars in funds may have been taken by these defendants outside of the ordinary course of business,” the medical companies alleged.
Several Americore entities are in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. Americore Health LLC, one of these entities, referenced $650,000 due to accounts receivable. Pritchard claimed that figure referred to the loan repayment James Biden owes the company.
Americore’s collapse came last year, about six months after James Biden allegedly started distancing himself from the company. In January 2019, the Lawrence County District Attorney’s office opened a criminal probe of the firm’s failure to pay employees and vendors of its hospital in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. The Department of Labor opened an investigation, the Pennsylvania attorney general filed a lawsuit, and state health authorities closed the hospital’s emergency room.
The FBI raided that hospital on January 30, 2020.
A Florida healthcare firm sued James Biden’s company Platinum Global Partners in June, claiming Platinum reneged on an agreement to invest in it. An executive at the firm suing Platinum says James Biden claimed he could get the Biden Cancer Initiative to promote the company’s product. That case was dismissed without prejudice in November.
James Biden’s attorney declined to comment on the Americore story. A Joe Biden campaign official said the presidential candidate never discussed Americore with his brother or expressed support for the business. The official admitted that White purchased a ticket for a September 2017 fundraiser for the Beau Biden Foundation — an event Joe Biden addressed in person. “If the two interacted in any way, it would have been a handshake and nothing more,” the spokesperson said.
Even so, the saga of James Biden only adds to Joe Biden’s political liabilities. His son and two of his brothers seem to have traded on the former VP’s name to engage in shady and allegedly illegal business deals. Did Joe Biden really not know about it? His action to fire the prosecutor investigating Burisma suggests otherwise.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.