One of President Joe Biden's top donors and "closest friends" has scored millions of dollars in federal contracts and a prestigious job in the White House, according to a Washington Free Beacon review of government records.
Biden in September of last year placed close confidant Joe Kiani, the founder and CEO of the medical technology company Masimo Corporation, on the influential President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Kiani's company, which manufactures various medical devices, has received almost $3 million in federal government contracts since Biden took office in 2021. Its contracts include funding from the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services.
The council, according to its website, "advises the president on matters involving science, technology, education, and innovation policy" and "provides the president with scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy."
The new post and contracts were awarded just a few years after Kiani emerged as one of Biden's biggest benefactors. In 2017, the Masimo Foundation donated at least $1 million to the Biden Foundation, on top of up to $500,000 from Kiani and his wife, according to donations that were disclosed by the foundation. During the 2020 campaign, Kiani bundled more than $1 million for Biden and hosted in-person and virtual fundraisers for him. Kiani also gave $750,000 to the pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country, and his foundation gave another $1 million for Biden's inaugural committee.
The Biden-Kiani relationship dates back years, and the president has not attempted to shield the friendship. At a 2018 conference sponsored by an organization Kiani funds, Biden referred to the businessman as "one of my closest friends." In 2015, then-vice president Biden delivered the keynote address at Kiani's Patient Safety, Science, and Technology Summit.
Kiani's post has raised the eyebrows of one member of the House Oversight Committee, who told the Free Beacon he plans to look into the potential "cronyism."
"Cronyism in any form is wrong," said Rep. Ralph Norman (R., S.C.), who serves on the House Oversight Committee. "For someone who has spent almost 40 years in Washington, you'd think President Biden of all people would know that.
"Yet here we are, another campaign donor receiving a post in the administration, this time on the prestigious President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. It's important to get to the bottom of this, and I'm happy to help lead that charge."
The post and lucrative contracts to Kiani's company after his massive donations to the president further undermine claims from the Biden administration that it has the highest ethical standards of any White House in history.
Both the Obama and Trump administrations awarded Masimo with contracts totaling in the millions, according to government spending disclosures. Masimo, however, is currently on track to surpass the amount of contracts under previous administrations.
Neither the White House nor Masimo responded to a request for comment.
Employees at Masimo Corporation donated thousands to Biden's American Possibilities PAC, making the company one of the largest backers of the super PAC.
Other members of the Biden family have fostered relationships with Kiani as well. Biden's son-in-law, Howard Krein, is the chief medical officer of Startup Health, a company that was launched with significant investment from Kiani's Masimo Corporation, which was part of a nearly $20 million funding round in 2018. During Biden’s presidential campaign, Krein served as an informal adviser to his campaign while working at the Masimo-invested Startup Health, which was simultaneously running "a special initiative to invest in health care startups that offer solutions to the pandemic," according to Politico. Biden's son Hunter and brother Frank have both leveraged their ties to the president as part of their business pitches.
Since Kiani joined the Biden administration, his foundation, the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Competition in Healthcare, has funded coverage in USA Today about health and patient safety. Among the content paid for by Kiani's foundation is a recent story about the administration's at-home COVID test kit roll out. USA Today says the Masimo Foundation has no editorial input on news coverage. Its most recent public tax forms show over $350,000 of donations to USA Today to expand the outlet's "capacity to produce unique, groundbreaking journalism aimed at improving patient safety and outcomes."
The Biden administration has faced congressional scrutiny for similar conflicts of interest. Most prominently, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm owned millions of dollars of stock in Proterra, an electric vehicle battery manufacturer, while she was working on America's electric vehicle battery supply chain. Granholm ultimately sold her shares to an undisclosed buyer for a profit of $1.6 million.
Published under: 2020 Election , Biden Administration , Democratic Donors , Joe Biden , Science