The Biden administration is already facing ethics issues surrounding Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris, who they are reportedly concerned is “leveraging her relationship with her aunt” to advance her own interests.
The White House’s alleged concern comes after President Joe Biden has repeatedly been dogged over accusations that members of his family have benefited from their relationship with him when he was a senator and vice president.
“The Vice President and her family will uphold the highest ethical standards and it’s the White House’s policy that the Vice President’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities that could reasonably be understood to imply an endorsement or support,” Sabrina Singh, a spokesperson for Harris, said in a statement.
“But the policy has been trickier to enforce with Meena than some other family members, given how much Kamala’s image is intertwined with her business projects,” Politico reported. “After Biden was officially declared the winner last November, transition ethics lawyers informed Meena that she could sell the rest of her Kamala-themed apparel but could not restock the items. Phenomenal’s ‘Kamala Harris Swimsuit,’ ‘phenomenal Kamala Tank,’ and ‘Kamala T-shirt,’ that appeared on the site last fall are no longer sold.”
The author of Politico’s report noted in a tweet that Meena Harris was already becoming an “ethical headache” for the Biden administration.
“‘Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea,’ which was published in June 2020 before Biden picked Kamala as vice president, poses further ethical knots. White House officials say that Meena would be prohibited from publishing that book now because it uses Kamala’s name in the title and her likeness on the cover, which is a drawing of a younger Kamala with Maya Harris, Meena’s mother,” the report continued. “The book doesn’t violate the White House’s policies because she published it before Kamala became vice president, they say. It’s not clear if Meena continuing to accept royalties on the book is permitted, however. Asked if she is still accepting royalties, Meena did not comment.”
The report said that the Biden administration was “worried” about Meena Harris “following the spirit of the rules.”
Another problematic example that the report noted occurred shortly after Biden picked Harris to be his running mate last year and Meena Harris “pushed” the campaign to sell a shirt on their website that she designed. The campaign later removed the shirt from the website “for appearance sake” because Meena Harris’ name was on the shirt and the campaign “didn’t want to make it seem or appear that she would be benefiting or profiting from the campaign,” a Biden official told Politico.
Meena Harris has also allegedly traveled on a private plane that was owned by a donor to Biden’s inauguration.
Meena Harris created even more potential issues for the Biden administration to deal with when she announced, following the election, that she created a production company with a former member of the Obama White House. Politico noted that one of the company’s first projects was a two-minute video that featured the vice president.
“Meena’s company produced the video with the Supermajority Education Fund, a nonprofit devoted to women’s leadership. (An allied super PAC, Supermajority, spent more than $1 million running ads backing Biden and opposing President DONALD TRUMP last year; most of its funding came from a super PAC started by George Soros). On YouTube, the ad lists Meena as a producer,” Politico added. “The White House said it did not know if Meena was paid for the ad, or whether her company volunteered its time. If the former, it might violate White House policy. Asked if she was paid by Supermajority, Meena didn’t respond.”
All of this comes as the Biden family has repeatedly faced accusations that Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has used his relationship with his father to advance his own business interests. A separate report from Politico in 2019 outlined other accusations that the Biden family has faced about how they allegedly cashed in on their relationship with the now-president.
The drama surrounding Meena Harris also comes after IMG Models, a top modeling agency, announced that they signed Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff. The New York Times noted that the signing came after “the inauguration ceremony brought a new level of public attention to Ms. Emhoff.”