House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer reportedly loaned and was repaid $200,000 by his brother in a transaction similar to one he called evidence of “shady business practices” when it involved President Joe Biden and his brother, James Biden.
In recent weeks, Mr Comer has attempted to claim that payments from James Biden to the president — made during a period when he was a private citizen after the Obama administration left office — were evidence that Mr Biden profited from his family’s business ventures.
In a press release issued last month, the Oversight Committee chair said it was “troubling” that Mr Biden’s “ability to be paid back by his brother depended on the success of his family’s shady financial dealings”.
But according to The Daily Beast, the Kentucky Republican and his brother also engaged in similar activities concerning a family farming business while he was an officeholder charged with overseeing agricultural policy.
Mr Comer reportedly “channeled extra money to his brother, seemingly from nothing” in the form of a $200,000 payment through a shell company, and also reportedly engaged in “land swaps” followed by applications for preferable tax treatment.
The transactions came at a time when the Kentuckian held a post on the powerful House Agricultural Committee, which is responsible for crafting annual legislation setting farm policy and authorising billions of dollars in federal agricultural programmes.
Campaign Legal Centre senior ethics counsel Delaney Marsco told The Daily Beast that Mr Comer’s work on the House farm panel while he owned a family farm was concerning because of the possibility that he was trying to “game a personal business advantage” from his position in Congress.
“Conflicts of interest can occur when members serve on committees overseeing industries in which they are heavily invested or in which their business interests are intertwined,” Ms Marsco said. “Voters have a right to know that lawmakers are using their considerable power in the interest of the public, not to game a personal business advantage”.