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Obama, Biden's Son Linked by Earmarks
"He was a crucial supporter of the law in that he paved the way for other Democrats to support it," said Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Foundation of America, a consumer group that opposed the bill. "Senator Biden provided a lot of political cover for the credit card industry because they wanted to show that the proposal had bipartisan support. He aggressively undermined the opposition to the bill."
Over the past two decades, MBNA employees have given more than $200,000 to Biden's Senate campaigns, more than workers from any other company.
Wade said Hunter Biden was hired by MBNA after working as a Commerce Department lawyer on Internet privacy and online commerce issues. "Hunter consulted for five years as an expert on these very same issues at a time of enormous expansion in online banking," Wade said. "He was never a lobbyist for MBNA, and his work had absolutely nothing to do with the bankruptcy bill. Zero. Nothing."
Hunter Biden also lobbied for Napster, the music-sharing Web site that ran afoul of intellectual-property laws. Sen. Biden at the time was a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees laws governing intellectual-property rights.
Wade said Hunter Biden is careful not to approach his father when lobbying. Wade said the younger Biden does not share in revenue of other partners, so he does not directly benefit from their activities.
When he introduced him as his running mate, Obama said of Biden: "He has brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn't changed him." But Republicans quickly attacked Biden's connections to lobbyists.
"While Barack Obama decries Washington insiders and says that he detests lobbyists, Joe Biden is the model Washington insider with numerous connections to lobbyists and special interests," Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz said.
Wade defended Biden, saying he has been "as strong a supporter of ethics reform as the Senate has ever known, and his office follows all ethics laws right down to the letter."
Research editor Alice Crites and database editor Sarah Cohen contributed to this report.