Joe Biden Plans to Close Foundation When He Enters 2020 Race


Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to wind down his personal charity, the Biden Foundation, when he enters the 2020 presidential race, people briefed on the preparations said on Monday.

Mr. Biden, the former vice president, and his wife, Jill, formed the nonprofit group after he left office in 2017. The group had raised $6.6 million by the end of that year, financing initiatives on issues like expanding gay rights, making college more affordable and ending violence against women.

The Biden Foundation also became a gathering place for Mr. Biden’s longtime allies and political advisers in advance of a likely presidential campaign, with a board chaired by his former chief of staff, Ted Kaufman, and an executive director, Louisa Terrell, with deep experience on Capitol Hill and in the Obama administration.

By preparing to unravel his flagship organization, Mr. Biden may be hoping to avoid some of the financial and conflict-of-interest questions that shadowed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, when her family foundation continued to operate and receive large donations and grants as she was pursuing the White House.

The people who confirmed Mr. Biden’s intention to shutter the group spoke on condition of anonymity, in order to discuss confidential preparations for his presidential campaign. The Biden Foundation would likely suspend its activities immediately and then begin a longer process of gradually dismantling itself.

The people familiar with the foundation’s plans declined to discuss many of the specifics, including whether some of its staff and programs could be spun off or preserved in another form.

Bill Russo, a spokesman for Mr. Biden, and Melanie Fonder Kaye, a spokeswoman for the Biden Foundation, both declined to comment.

Mr. Biden is expected to announce his presidential candidacy as soon as the middle of this week.

The Biden Foundation is not the only nonprofit entity he created after leaving office, and the fate of the wider network of groups and university centers associated with him remains to be seen. He has backed other charities, including the Biden Cancer Initiative and the Beau Biden Foundation, and academic institutions like the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy and Public Engagement.

A number of the senior officials at those organizations are people who have long been expected to join Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign or advise it on policy from the outside.

A New York Times review found earlier this year that Mr. Biden’s various entities had no fewer than 49 staff or board members who had worked for Mr. Biden, for former President Barack Obama’s administration, or for one of the Obama or Biden presidential campaigns.

Of all his projects, Mr. Biden’s personal foundation may have offered the clearest display of his political and financial network.

The group disclosed its donors online, listing large contributions from influential figures like Tim Gill, the Colorado software entrepreneur and gay-rights activist; Bernard Schwartz, an investor and longtime Democratic donor; and Peter Angelos, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

At least some of his foundation’s financial supporters are expected to help underwrite his presidential candidacy.

Mr. Biden’s web of financial supporters has never been as extensive or prolific in its contributions as the one assembled over the years by Hillary and Bill Clinton. Partly as a result, Mr. Biden’s charities have operated on a tiny fraction of the scale of the Clinton Foundation.

Rather than financing international humanitarian projects and high-profile events like the meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative, much of the Biden Foundation’s funding has gone toward staff salaries. Its only grant in 2017 totaled about half a million dollars, which was used to spin off the Biden Cancer Initiative as a separate project.

But in a sign that Mr. Biden was seeking to minimize his political vulnerabilities well in advance of the 2020 election, aides said he had declined to accept foreign funding for any of his nonprofits. And his cancer-research group is said to refuse donations from pharmaceutical companies.

Should Mr. Biden back away from the race at the last minute, his foundation would likely continue operating, people familiar with the plans said.

But Mr. Biden’s closest allies expect him to become a candidate within days, and Mr. Biden began accepting checks for a presidential campaign last week.


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