No, I’m not talking about his golf swing—as it appears the Vice President has benefited from Tiger Woods imparting some of his golfing wisdom onto him (see video) — but this particular bad form does relate to what the VP mentions in the same video when he says, “Well look folks, it’s not all about work. As I told you, the job does have some perks.”
Apparently, one of those “perks” is his ability to charge the Secret Service to rent his cottage, which does sit advantageously close to his home in Wilmington, Del., in the amount of $2,200/month as reported by this Washington Times article. In the same article it is reported that Biden will receive a total of $66,000 from this contract by the end of 2013. The deal emerged from Biden’s initiative when he offered to rent the cottage to the Secret Service after his mother, who used to live in the cottage, died in early 2010. Initially, the Secret Service declined and the cottage was rented to a private person, but after that person moved out the Secret Service then took up the offer.
Fox News and The Washington Times covered the story, as did the Philadelphia media, for whom it is a relatively local item. Interestingly, the British press also finds it newsworthy. Few other outlets have followed their lead in an industry in which the herd instinct normally runs rampant.
Is it bad form to benefit financially and to accept taxpayer money from an agency legally bound to provide him and his family with protection on the basis of his position and title? It’s not that Biden is hurting for extra funds. His reported income for last year totaled $379,178—$11,000 of which was earned from this rent contract.
Leslie Paige, spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, is quoted as saying, “He should be afforded every single protection available to him and his family, as should every vice president and president, but this arrangement seems bizarre to me.” She continues, “You’d think the vice president, who shepherded the deficit committee, would think twice about charging the Secret Service rent. Why would he need the money? I don’t get it.”
The Clintons, at one point, rented to the Secret Service as well, according to the article, but they chose not to accept payment for the arrangement.
There is obviously no criminal conduct in this arrangement and it does seem to sit squarely with the tenets of capitalism, but it also highlights the hypocrisy, and dare I say, greed of the Vice President. It is hypocrisy because, as the article points out, during the presidential transition, Biden and President Obama “pledged to end the abuse of no-bid contracting and require competitive bidding on nearly all contract orders for more than $25,000 across the federal government.” But in this case Joe Biden became, and is listed as, a vendor, and is thus technically a federal contractor, who is the beneficiary of a no bid contract. And greed? Based on the standards put forth by today’s Democrats, the fact that Biden makes in excess of $250,000 a year, he is wealthy and shouldn’t need that money from the Secret Service. If he was classy, he wouldn’t accept it in the first place. But since he has, he should give that money to charity, or to help reduce the nation’s debt.