When Joe Biden was a US senator he referred to himself as “one of the poorest members” of Congress. But his fortunes rose precipitously following his years as vice-president, thanks to a flurry of cash from book deals and speeches — as well as regular kickbacks from his brother and youngest son, according to text messages from Hunter Biden’s laptop and a congressional probe.
In 2016, his last year as vice-president, “middle class Joe” reported between $291,000 and about $1 million in assets and income outside his vice-presidential salary of $230,700. He also claimed between $780,000 and about $1.6 million in liabilities, according to his 2016 personal financial disclosure form.
But Biden’s fortunes rapidly changed between 2017 and 2020, with help from both his son Hunter and his brother James, according to a congressional report.
In the year after he left office as vice president in 2017, Biden and his wife Jill earned more than $11 million, and raked in $4.6 million the following year, according to Forbes.
Here’s where Biden’s millions come from:
Biden currently makes $400,000 a year as president. As VP, his salary was about $225,000, according to Forbes. And in the years leading up to that job, he earned around $155,000 annually as a senator plus another $20,000 teaching at Widener University.
In 2017, Biden was paid $540,484 for his role at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement — the DC-based think tank where classified documents were found last November — and as the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2019, when he began campaigning to be president, Biden took a leave of absence from the school, decreasing his salary to $135,000.
Biden earned more than $4 million in late 2017 and 2018 from giving dozens of speeches — ranging from $8,040 for an appearance at the Miami Book Fair to $235,000 for a book-tour related “VIP experience” in 2017. Biden addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and Harvard University in 2017 and was the featured speaker at the Human Rights Campaign dinner in 2018, according to public disclosures.
For her part, Jill Biden disclosed 18 speaking engagements totaling $700,000, earning between $25,000 and $66,000 per speech after her husband left the vice president’s office in 2017.
Book advances and royalties
Biden collected more than $225,000 from Random House for his first book, 2007’s “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.”
Six years later, Jill reported $24,000 in author earnings after writing the 2012 children’s book “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops,” according to Forbes.
In 2017, Biden and his wife signed a reported $8 million joint book deal with Flatiron Books for Jill to write one book (“Where the Light Enters”) and Joe to write two. “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose,” was released in 2017. It’s not clear when Biden’s next book will be released. A rep for Flatiron Books did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.
The couple set up two S-corporations, CelticCapri and Giacoppa, for speaking engagements and book payments related to the couple’s memoirs.
The Bidens owns a sprawling mansion in a tony section of Wilmington, Delaware. That’s where a trove of classified documents was recently discovered in the garage, which also houses a 1967 Corvette Stingray that’s said to have been a wedding present from Biden’s father for the president’s first marriage. In 2016, the car was valued at $78,000 on the CNBC TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage.”
The 6,850-square-foot home — which features three bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms — sits on four acres of land the in Greenville suburb, known as “chateau country.” Biden bought the land on Barley Mill Road for $350,000 in 1996 — after selling a property he called “The Station” for $1.2 million.
The Greenville estate is now worth nearly $1.4 million, according to Zillow. Biden also rented out a cottage on his Greenville estate to the Secret Service for $2,200 a month when he was vice president, according to public records.
Between 2003 and 2014, the Bidens have borrowed more than $1 million against the property, public records show.
Also part of Biden’s portfolio is six-bedroom weekend retreat in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, that he bought for $2.74 million in June 2017. The nearly 5,000-square-foot home, which boasts five bathrooms, was built in 2007 and sits on nearly half an acre of land adjacent to Cape Henlopen State Park.
Public records show that the Bidens built an in-ground pool after purchasing the property, which includes a groumet kitchen, several fireplaces and even a doggy wash station.
Social Security, pensions
Now 80 (Biden) and 71 (Jill) years of age, the couple started collecting a hefty amount from Social Security in 2009, according to their tax filings: some $385,000 in benefits over the next decade, not to mention $890,000 from pensions and annuities during that time.
Hunter Biden’s contributions
Joe’s son Hunter, now 52, has shouldered a fair share of responsibility for financing the family’s lavish lifestyle, according to messages found on his laptop.
In one message, in January 2019, Hunter complains to daughter Naomi about kicking back half of his earnings from lucrative board positions and his own firm’s legal work to support his father and stepmother.
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Hunter joined the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas provider, in 2014, at one time raking in more than $80,000 a month.
“I hope you all can do what I did and pay for everything for this entire family for 30 years,” Hunter told Naomi. “It’s really hard. But don’t worry, unlike pop, I won’t make you give me half your salary.”
Pop, of course, is Joe Biden.
The laptop — infamously abandoned at a Delaware repair shop in April 2019 — does not contain any direct evidence of money transfers from Hunter to his father, but does show that the son was routinely on the hook for his parents’ household expenses while Biden was vice president.
The expenses for the Greenville property’s upkeep are spelled out in a June 5, 2010, email from Hunter to business partner Eric Schwerin and titled “JRB Bills” — as in, Joe Robinette Biden.
It details $1,239 in repairs to an air conditioner at “mom-mom’s cottage,” and another $1,475 to a painter for “back wall and columns at the lake [Greenville] house.” There was also another $2,600 for fixing up a “stone retaining wall at the lake” and $475 “for shutters.”
While Biden was vice president, between 2009 through 2016, Hunter reportedly secured various business dealings with Ukraine and China by allegedly trading on his father’s position.
In return, Biden was given a percentage of the profits, according to Hunter’s former business partner, US Navy veteran Tony Bobulinski. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Bobulinski revealed that Biden, who was known as “the big guy” in messages on Hunter’s laptop, received a cut of the proceeds from his son’s overseas dealings.
Now, a Republican-led Congressional Committee wants to know how much Hunter — and his uncle James — may have contributed to the Biden family wealth beginning in 2007.
“The most documented instances of family members trading on Joe Biden’s political success and power are his brother, James Biden and Hunter Biden,” the Congressional report says. “James and Hunter Biden have worked together to pursue business opportunities for years.”
In 2019, James allegedly promised investors at Americore Health LLC, a company he had partnered with, “millions of dollars that he claimed variously to be coming from the Middle East, Russia or China,” according to court documents.
The congressional report cites one witness who said that to attract business, James “promised access to a future Biden administration” and “the highest levels of government.”