The first family faces another potential area of ethical concerns, this time surrounding the president’s son-in-law, Howard Krein.
Krein is married to Ashley Biden, President Joe Biden’s daughter, and is the chief medical officer for StartUp Health, a healthcare venture capital firm. He is one of the firm’s founders, alongside his brother, Steven Krein, who also serves as the CEO and Managing Partner.
As reported by ABC News, StartUp Health previously invested in Yosi Health, a tech firm that began creating technology that could be used in improving the United States’ coronavirus vaccine endeavor. In December, the firm reached out to their investor — StartUp Health — for help in getting their program in front of government health officials
In an interview with ABC News, CEO Hari Prasad was open about this strategy. “Our goal with StartUp Health is to leverage their relationships and work with state and federal agencies,” he said.
StartUp Health seeks to invest “in a global army of Health Transformers to achieve 12 Health Moonshots.” In a 2019 statement by StartUp Health’s co-founder and CEO, Steven Krein described “‘health moonshots’ as a powerful metaphor for meeting the great health challenges of our time.” Their company website states that they “have invested in over 340 innovative health companies” since 2011 and are “just getting started.”
The investment company has reportedly used the Biden family “in promotional materials, highlighting Krein’s travels with the former vice president” as well as promoting Biden’s two speaking engagements at its annual festival after he was no longer vice president.
Among the ethical questions regarding Krein’s involvement with the firm and his connection to the president are concerns about whether President Biden’s son-in-law will receive information about plans regarding the coronavirus that are not public. This question was raised to ABC by Dr. Johannes Lenhard, a University of Cambridge ethics researcher and author of a forthcoming book on the ethics of venture capital.
On Tuesday, as reported by the New York Post, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki answered questions about Krein, saying that Biden will keep an “absolute wall between him and any businesses connected with his family members, and as he reiterated just last week, no family member is going to have an office in the White House or be involved in any government policymaking, that applies to his son-in-law and applies to every single member of his family.”
During the 2020 election cycle, there was increased attention on the Biden family due to Hunter Biden’s business connections to foreign countries. As of last week, the White House confirmed that Hunter Biden continues to own a stake of a Chinese investment firm and is “working to unwind his investments.”
According to ABC News, watchdog groups are keeping an eye on the Biden family.
“‘Howard Krein is playing with fire,’ said Meredith McGehee, the executive director of Issue One, a nonpartisan ethics watchdog group. ‘If he gets too close to that flame — if he is trying to either cash in on his relationship with the president, or he is trying to influence policy — the flame is going to get him. And it is not worth it to him or to Biden.’”