By Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal | October 05, 2023
FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, co-founder of the Senate’s Whistleblower Caucus, is raising concerns about President Joe Biden’s choice to run the government’s Office of Special Counsel.
Biden on Tuesday nominated Hampton Dellinger, a former colleague of first son Hunter Biden at the Washington law firm of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, to head the independent federal agency.
“Dellinger’s partisan past casts doubt on his capacity to serve in what should be a strictly nonpartisan, independent role,” Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said in a written statement to The Daily Signal late Wednesday on Biden’s nominee.
“Questions remain as to whether Dellinger would be up for the job of supporting all whistleblowers, or whether he, like so many other Biden appointees, would run to Hunter Biden’s rescue instead,” the Iowa Republican added.
Dellinger worked at Boies Schiller Flexner from May 2013 to November 2020, when the elder Biden won the presidency, according to the lawyer’s LinkedIn page.
Hunter Biden’s father was vice president in the Obama administration from 2009 through 2016.
A key role of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel is to investigate complaints made by government whistleblowers, several of which figure in the House’s investigation of the younger Biden’s business dealings in China and other foreign nations.
The Senate must vote to confirm Biden’s nomination of Dellinger to direct the office with the title of special counsel.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider the nomination, said the Senate should review the association with Hunter Biden.
“The Biden administration continues to ensure that there are two tiers of justice in this country,” Blackburn told The Daily Signal in a statement. “The Office of Special Counsel’s primary mission is to protect whistleblowers. Nominating someone who has ties to Hunter Biden and Burisma is highly inappropriate and should be thoroughly reviewed.”
The Office of Special Counsel, or OSC, and its head should not be confused with any of the special counsels appointed by the Justice Department to investigate either the current president or former President Donald Trump.
Biden’s nomination of his son’s former colleague occurs after whistleblowers from both the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department have criticized the credibility of a yearslong government investigation into Hunter Biden’s activities.
In July, Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., joined three Republican committee chairmen in the House in a letter to outgoing special counsel Henry J. Kerner, expressing concern about retaliation against the IRS whistleblowers.
Grassley, who also is the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted that letter in his statement to The Daily Signal.
“I’ve called on the Office of the Special Counsel to aggressively investigate retaliation against courageous IRS whistleblowers who exposed significant government misconduct in the Hunter Biden investigation,” Grassley said.
Biden’s nomination of his son’s former colleague came on the same day that his son was arraigned in federal court in Delaware, where he pleaded not guilty to three drug-related gun charges.
House Republicans have begun an impeachment inquiry into the president’s conduct, including whether he knew of or profited by his son’s business dealings in foreign countries, including China, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania.
House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., is one of the three House chairmen running the Biden impeachment inquiry who joined Grassley and Johnson on the July letter to Kerner, the outgoing special counsel.
Kerner was appointed by Biden’s predecessor, Trump, and has headed the Office of Special Counsel since Oct. 30, 2017.
“The Office of Special Counsel is responsible for investigating whistleblower retaliation at agencies like the departments of Justice and the Treasury,” Comer told The Daily Signal earlier about the president’s appointment of Dellinger. “Naming a Biden family crony to this position does not instill confidence that the law will be enforced fairly.”
Biden previously nominated Dellinger to be assistant attorney general overseeing the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, a position he held from October 2021 until this past June.
While he ran the Office of Legal Policy, Dellinger’s work included vetting potential Biden nominees to the federal judiciary, coordinating departmental rule-making, and handling policy assignments at the direction of Attorney General Merrick Garland or other department leaders, according to the White House announcement.
Dellinger’s public profile on LinkedIn does not show his employment since leaving the Justice Department. The Daily Signal has sought comment from Dellinger via LinkedIn as well as the Office of Legal Policy.
The White House hasn’t responded to inquiries from The Daily Signal about this report.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Dellinger worked on the Crisis Management and Government Response team at Boies Schiller Flexner. This is the D.C. legal team that worked with Burisma, but it is not clear that Dellinger directly worked with Burisma executives.
The White House press release on the Dellinger nomination makes no mention of his work at the D.C. law firm. It makes only a vague reference to Dellinger’s being “a partner at regional and national law firms” and says that “he has represented whistleblowers and other clients challenging government activities.”
Dellinger also was chief legal counsel to then-North Carolina Gov. Michael Easley, a Democrat, from 2001 to 2003. Before that, he was a deputy attorney general for North Carolina.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel operates with basic authorities specified in four federal statutes: the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
Provisions of these laws prohibit federal employees from devoting government time and resources to advancing partisan politics.
This story was updated to include a comment from Sen. Marsha Blackburn.
Fred Lucas is chief news correspondent and manager of the Investigative Reporting Project for The Daily Signal.
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