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Checks & Imbalances: Hunter Biden’s Art Price Tag Is ‘Pretty Much Unheard Of’

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Today we look at Hunter Biden’s controversial art career and examine the Trump Organization’s recent job postings.

This is the web edition of the free Checks & Imbalances newsletter, usually sent to inboxes on Fridays. You can subscribe here. Please support this work, if you can, by subscribing to Forbes.


Hunter Biden’s Art Price Tag Is ‘Pretty Much Unheard Of’

Reporter Carlie Porterfield joins “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss the Hunter Biden art saga.


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Senate Democrat Michael Bennet Asks Apple And Google To Ban TikTok From App Stores

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“Colorado Senator Michael Bennet (D) has called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, citing concerns that the app could share private American user data with China or be manipulated by the Chinese government to subtly influence U.S. public discourse,” reports Emily Baker-White.

In a letter sent to the companies on Thursday morning, Bennet laid out what he called an “unacceptable threat” to U.S. national security: “TikTok poses a unique concern because Chinese law obligates ByteDance, its Beijing-based parent company, to ‘support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work.’ Beijing’s requirement raises the obvious risk that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could weaponize TikTok against the United States, specifically, by forcing ByteDance to surrender Americans’ sensitive data or manipulate the content Americans receive to advance China’s interests.”

Until recently, calls to ban the app–either from app stores or from the U.S. completely–have come almost exclusively from Republicans, but Bennet’s letter makes him the latest in an emerging cadre of Democrats to raise concern about TikTok. A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bennet joins Senator Mark Warner, Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Democratic governors who have banned the app on state-owned hardware in their states.

Related read: “TikTok CEO To Testify Before Congress Amid Growing Concerns Of Privacy, National Security, Child Exploitation”


Continuing Irresolutions

Updates on Checks & Imbalances’ previous reporting

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) named three new board members to the Office of Congressional Ethics, Punchbowl News reported on Friday. The board now has to fill the office’s staff vacancies within a couple of weeks, per new rules the House passed largely along party lines.

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The campaign of former Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) spent $10,400 on legal consulting in the fourth quarter of 2022. The campaign paid $46,000 to the same firm a quarter before, as it unsuccessfully fought a subpoena demanding Hice’s testimony in a Georgia investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Hice left Congress after losing his bid to become Georgia’s secretary of state. His campaign has $2,200 of cash remaining.

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The campaign for former Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-Miss.) dropped another $19,000 on legal fees in the last three months of 2022. His campaign has now spent $123,000 on legal fees since 2019. Palazzo was under investigation for allegedly using campaign money to pay for personal expenses. He lost his bid for reelection in a 2022 primary. His campaign is currently underwater, with $10,000 of cash and $16,000 of debt.

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The Federal Election Commission continues to have lots of questions for Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) about his campaign’s finances. In January, the FEC inquired about nine potential issues:

  • A conduit that passed along contributions
  • Inconsistent reporting of a contribution
  • Donors that were not properly identified
  • Contributions that were possibly over the legal limit
  • Apparent unauthorized uses of funds
  • Disbursements that were not properly identified
  • Failure to file a required report
  • Contributions from an organization that may be an unregistered political committee
  • Prohibited contributions from a corporation or labor organization

In June 2021, the FEC asked the former sheriff’s campaign about six other matters:

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  • Potentially excessive contributions
  • A conduit that passed along contributions
  • A required report that was not submitted
  • Inconsistent cash-on-hand figures
  • Incorrect math

Nehls’ campaign has filed amended reports in response to the inquiries.

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Conservative nonprofit Project Veritas paid its chairperson James O’Keefe $396,000 in 2021, according to a Florida filing. That’s down from the $412,000 he took home in 2020. Since 2012, Project Veritas has paid O’Keefe more than $2.7 million.

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A political action committee aligned with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) bought $1,600 worth of books from retailer Books-A-Million in December. Cruz’s latest book was published in October. When it debuted at No. 9 on the best-seller list, the New York Times noted that some book sellers reported receiving bulk orders. While the FEC is still processing the latest batch of campaign-finance reports, a preliminary look through committees associated with Cruz didn’t turn up any disbursements that appear to line up with the bulk purchases.

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The campaign for Sen. Ton Cotton (R-Ark.) bought $5,800 worth of books from Hachette in December. The previous month, Hachette published Cotton’s latest book. The campaign previously had paid Hachette $12,000. A spokesperson confirmed that the payment covered copies of Cotton’s book but said the senator would not profit from the purchase.

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The crowdfunding campaign that pro-Trump vlogger Silk started to preserve the legacy of her sister Diamond was taken offline. Hosted on the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, it raised at least $115,000, according to an archived copy of the page.


Here’s How The Biden Documents Differ From The Trump Records Found At Mar-A-Lago

The Justice Department discovered additional documents—including some with classified markings—at President Joe Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home following a search of the property on last week, according to the president’s lawyer. Politics reporter Sara Dorn joins Brittany Lewis in “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss how this differs from the documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.


Tracking Trump

The Trump Organization will be relying on foreign labor to produce its Virginia wines once again.

Trump Winery is looking to hire 35 temporary foreign workers to prune, thin and harvest grapes at its Charlottesville vineyard in 2023, according to a work order it filed with the Department of Labor earlier this month. The positions, which run from February to October, pay $14.16 an hour.

Citizen and Immigration Services’ guidelines allow employers to retain temporary foreign workers if “there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to do the temporary work.” The unemployment rate in Virginia, as of December, sat at 3%, which is low, but a slight uptick from previous months.

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Despite the former president’s repeated hostility towards foreign immigrants, his company has a history of relying on their labor, employing them at its clubs, golf courses and vineyard. Trump Winery has sought 29 to 35 foreign workers a year going back to at least 2018. Mar-a-Lago, a private club where the former president stored classified documents, sought to hire 91 foreigners to work as cooks, servers and housekeepers this winter. Trump’s West Palm Beach golf club, meanwhile, was looking for five temporary foreign workers to wait tables.

As recently as 2019, Trump Winery also employed undocumented immigrants, according to the Washington Post.

Spokespeople for the Trump Organization did not respond to inquiries.

Watch: “The Latest Controversy Surrounding Trump’s Businesses—Though What He’s Doing Is Totally Legal”

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“Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska May Have Probed Vladimir Potanin Using Ex-FBI Agent Who Was Thorn In Trump’s Side,” reports Giacomo Tognini.

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Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign spent $69,000 at Mar-a-Lago and his West Palm Beach golf club in the last quarter of 2022, according to a disclosure filed with the FEC on Tuesday. Over the final three months of 2022, 9% of the Trump campaign’s disbursements went to his businesses.

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Mar-a-Lago hosted a sold-out, $750-per-plate dinner for the 917 Society on Jan. 28. The group’s “mission is to educate the next generation on the great values and norms given to them by the U.S. Constitution.” Speakers included Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Mark Green (R-Tenn.).


Across Forbes


In Closing

“Art isn’t easy.”

— Barbra Streisand, “If I Loved You”



Source: Fox Business

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