When Barack Obama was first running for president back in 2008, his campaign defended his running mate Joe Biden for supporting a senatorial bill despite the fact that his son Hunter was working for a bank that supported the legislation.
Aides working on Obama’s campaign confirmed to The New York Times that Hunter’s consulting work for MBNA, which earned him $100,000 a year, was something they looked into when vetting his father as a potential running mate.
The bill that Biden was supporting made it harder for individual consumers to declare bankruptcy, which benefitted the credit card industry that included banks like MBNA, according to Fox News. Not only was the bank paying Hunter from 2001-2005, which is the year the bill was passed by the Senate, but bank employees had also donated to lawmakers from both parties.
Biden himself had received more than $214,000 in campaign contributions from MBNA employees by 2008. Despite this, Obama’s aides defended Biden, claiming that he was not influenced by either the campaign donations or his son’s work. Obama campaign spokesman David Wade even claimed at the time that Biden worked hard for a bipartisan bill and sought changes to it that MBNA did not like.
“He took plenty of knocks from the largest employer in his state because he demanded changes in the bankruptcy bill,” Wade alleged. “But legislating requires compromise. Senators cast tough votes. Congress worked on the bankruptcy bill for nearly a decade, over five Congresses, to forge a bipartisan compromise.”
Most of the Democrats in the Senate opposed the bill, with Obama being one of them. Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America, an organization that opposed the bill, said at the time that Biden’s support of the bill gave it a “veneer of bipartisanship” that helped garner support from other Democrats.
“He provided cover to other Democrats to do what the credit industry was urging them to do,” Plunkett said.
Biden was one of eighteen Democrats who voted in favor of the legislation when it passed in 2005 in a 74-25 vote in the Senate.