When Hunter Biden's Art Patron Hit Federal Contribution Limits, Her Underage Children Kept the Money to Dems Flowing

Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali has sent millions to liberal politicians and causes, regularly visited White House

August 1, 2023

In September 2015, Hunter Biden art patron Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali sent Hillary Clinton $2,700, the maximum amount she could give the presidential candidate for the upcoming primary election. Just days later, an unusual source stepped forward with more Clinton money: Naftali's 17-year-old daughter.

Naftali's daughter—who was in high school at the time—also sent Clinton $2,700, federal disclosures reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show. The contribution came just 10 days after Naftali was legally barred from giving Clinton more primary campaign cash. In the years that followed, Naftali's son continued the practice, sending thousands of dollars to California congressman Mike Levin and presidential candidate Kamala Harris after Naftali contributed the legal maximum to both Democrats. Naftali's son gave Levin $1,000 at age 16 and Harris $2,000 at age 17.

The contributions show just how far Naftali and her family have gone to curry favor with liberal politicians. Naftali's daughter—a self-described "data engineer photographer surfer hiphop dancer big d democrat yogi"—landed a spot on Clinton's National Finance Committee as an 18-year-old, less than one year after she sent Clinton thousands of dollars. She went on to work as a "technology consultant" for the Democratic National Committee as a college student.

But the political benefits that come with megadonor status haven't just gone to Naftali's daughter. President Joe Biden appointed Naftali herself to his Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad in July 2022, nine months after his scandal-plagued son held his first art show. While the White House said Hunter Biden's art patrons would remain anonymous, Business Insider on Monday identified Naftali as a patron of the first son's work, a revelation that prompted ethics concerns. Hunter Biden has used his artwork to earn at least $1.3 million as he faces legal battles over his failure to pay federal income taxes.

Federal law allows minors to donate to political campaigns, though they must do so "knowingly and voluntarily" with their own money. Naftali's children are the beneficiaries of a trust set up by their grandparents, court records obtained by the Free Beacon show, and money they receive from the trust is considered their own income under federal law. Still, Naftali could not direct her children to use money from the trust to contribute to liberal politicians—that decision would have to come from the children themselves.

If Naftali directed or paid her children to make the contributions after she no longer could, she would likely be guilty of running a straw donation scheme. Federal prosecutors have uncovered such schemes in recent months.

"Their parents can't say, 'If you donate, we'll give you your money later, or we'll give you a really big Christmas gift,'" said Kendra Arnold, executive director of campaign finance watchdog Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. "The facts in this case line up to indicate that could have happened here."

The Naftali family did not return a request for comment.

Beyond the underage contributions, Naftali's children have in many cases followed their mother's political donation habits. Three Naftali children in 2020, for example, sent maximum contributions to the Biden campaign after their mother gave the campaign more than $5,000. The children have also contributed to more obscure Democrats, including New York's Antonio Delgado, Iowa's Abby Finkenauer, and California's Asif Mahmood. All of those contributions came after Naftali herself could no longer contribute to the campaigns.

Naftali has funneled millions of dollars to Democrats since 2004. Her children have contributed more than $146,000 to 46 Democratic politicians and committees since 2012, federal disclosures show.

Hunter Biden held his first art show in New York City in November 2021. Just one month later, Naftali met with White House policy adviser Richard Figueroa, the Free Beacon reported. Naftali went on to visit the White House at least 12 more times—in one case, she landed a private meeting with senior White House adviser Neera Tanden, visitor logs show.

The White House pledged to install "reasonable safeguards" around Hunter Biden's art show. In addition to Naftali, however, the first son is reportedly aware of at least one other buyer: Los Angeles attorney Kevin Morris, who loaned Hunter Biden millions of dollars to pay off back taxes.

Hunter Biden has also indicated that he holds sway when it comes to Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad appointments.

Hunter Biden's cousin, Missy Owens, in March 2015 asked if he could secure her mother a spot on the commission. In response, Hunter Biden noted that "Eric," an apparent reference to business partner Eric Schwerin, asked to serve on the commission in 2008. Schwerin landed on the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad in 2015. The Biden administration nonetheless told Insider that former House speaker Nancy Pelosi recommended Naftali to serve on the commission.