WH: Biden's son to Ukraine gas company isn't U.S. endorsement
By Justin Sink - 05/13/14 02:42 PM EDT
Ukraine's largest private gas producer has hired Vice President Biden's youngest son, but White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted on Tuesday the move shouldn't be read as an official endorsement by the U.S. government.
"Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family are obviously private citizens, and where they work does not reflect an endorsement by the administration or by the vice president or president," Carney told reporters.
The vice president's office also defended the hire.
“Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer. The Vice President does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company. For any additional questions, I refer you to Hunter’s office," said Kendra Barkoff, spokeswoman for Vice President Biden.
Burisma, which produces the equivalent of 10,500 barrels of oil daily, announced Biden's hire in a statement earlier Tuesday.
“The company’s strategy is aimed at the strongest concentration of professional staff and the introduction of best corporate practices, and we’re delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals,” said Alan Apter, Burisma Holdings’ chairman of the board of directors.
The younger Biden, for his part, said he believed his legal and corporate advice would "contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine."
“Burisma’s track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine,” Hunter Biden said.
But the hire could raise ethical questions — and diplomatic headaches — for the White House. During a visit to Kiev last month, the vice president discussed energy security with Ukraine's leaders, including ways the country could produce its own domestic production of natural gas.
"Imagine where you'd be today if you were able to tell Russia: keep your gas. It would be a very different world," the vice president told Ukrainian lawmakers.
The hire also came a day after Russian energy giant Gazprom threatened to halt natural gas shipments to Ukraine unless the country prepays for its energy. That announcement has sparked fears that energy costs could strain Ukraine's fragile economy.