March 21, 2019

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How Biden Has Paved the Way for a Possible Presidential Run

How Biden Has Paved the Way for a Possible Presidential Run
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The list includes Mr. Biden’s sister and longtime campaign manager, Valerie Biden Owens, who is vice chairwoman of both the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware and the Biden Foundation, as well as a paid consultant to the institute; Mike Donilon, his strategist across four decades and now the managing director of the institute and a consultant for Mr. Biden’s PAC; and Steve Ricchetti, his vice-presidential chief of staff and now the managing director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Another longtime Biden operative, Joshua Alcorn, has been paid by Mr. Biden’s PAC while serving as an executive at the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children.

The top compensation, as far as can be determined from Internal Revenue Service records, belongs to Gregory C. Simon, who was projected in a tax exemption application to receive $552,500 a year to run the cancer initiative. Mr. Biden selected Mr. Simon in the final year of the Obama administration to lead the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force for less than 40 percent of that amount.

Gregory C. Simon runs the Biden Cancer Initiative.CreditMatt Low

Mr. Biden declined through his spokesman to be interviewed about his post-vice-presidency. But several people close to him emphasized that he had built his mini-empire not to prepare for 2020 but to make a continuing contribution on matters of longstanding concern.

“They planned a lot of this under the assumption that Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States,” said Sarah Bianchi, a former Biden policy aide who is now a paid senior adviser to the institute.

That said, some top staff members will undoubtedly decamp for a campaign if there is one, several advisers said. Whether all the groups could sustain operations is unclear, given that Mr. Biden could face pressure to suspend fund-raising to avoid improper influence.

During the 2018 cycle, Mr. Biden maintained visibility with campaign visits to 24 states and at least 135 other speaking engagements, giving him a platform whenever he wanted. At a book-related talk in Missoula, Mont., in early December, he fueled coast-to-coast speculation about his plans by declaring himself “the most qualified person in the country to be president.”

Mr. Biden has long been self-deprecating about his relative lack of wealth, compared with some politicians. He and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, left office with assets worth between $277,000 and $955,000 (not including their house near Wilmington, Del.), as well as a mortgage of $500,000 to $1 million and other smaller loans, according to a 2015 federal disclosure. The report gives values in ranges.

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