Former vice president Joe Biden's younger brother Frank said the 2020 frontrunner intervened on behalf of an oil heiress and lobbyist to advance animal cruelty legislation, according to recently unearthed videotaped remarks.
In taped remarks to the 2013 American Equine Summit obtained by Politico, Democratic Florida state legislator Joe Abruzzo and the younger Biden spoke frankly about how the vice president played a key role in the passage of a horse slaughter ban after being lobbied by his brother.
When oil heiress and horse enthusiast Victoria McCullough took up the pet cause of banning horse slaughter operations in the United States in 2008, she hired Abruzzo to lobby Congress on her behalf. Abruzzo enlisted the support of Frank Biden, who was lobbying the Florida legislature on behalf of a charter school project.
"I turned also to Frank and said, 'We may need a little help from the vice president and the administration talking to some senators,'" Abruzzo said. "And when Frank and the vice president and [Florida Democratic representative Debbie] Wasserman Schultz jumped in, by the morning sunrise, after Victoria's advocacy as well, we had no opposition and a voice vote and a passage of appropriations."
"My brother's long-term relationships in the Senate proved to be the final nail in the coffin to be able to pull this thing forward," Frank Biden added.
In her own videotaped remarks also obtained by Politico, McCullough similarly gave Vice President Biden credit for lobbying for the bill's passage. "The two individuals that are the most pro-slaughter in America, [Democratic Nevada senator] Harry Reid and [Republican Kentucky senator] Mitch McConnell, these two people in leadership were the roadblock and this is where the vice president is a hero," she said.
A 2011 press release from the Equine Welfare Alliance also shows Abruzzo and McCullough meeting with Joe Biden at the Naval Observatory. Politico reports McCullough told them she got the meeting based on "long-standing relationships with Frank Biden, as well as with Joe's late son, Beau, and with Biden staffers." She also originally told the outlet, "Frank Biden is very close to me. He worked for me," before calling the following day to "refresh her memory" and deny he ever worked for her.
The renewed scrutiny of Joe Biden's role in aiding his brother's lobbying efforts comes amid allegations from President Donald Trump that Biden improperly pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor investigating a company tied to his son, Hunter. Trump's request that the Ukrainian government investigate the Biden family's activities in the country prompted the House impeachment inquiry.