ICYMI: Daily Beast: James Comer, Like Joe Biden, Also Paid His Brother $200K
November 9, 2023
Key Point: “[Comer] might want to consider a parallel inquiry into his own family… unlike with the Bidens, Comer’s own history actually borders a conflict of interest between his official government role and his private family business—and it’s been going on for decades.”
Daily Beast: James Comer, Like Joe Biden, Also Paid His Brother $200K
By Roger Sollenberger
- House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY) on Wednesday subpoenaed President Joe Biden’s brother, James Biden, who Comer has implicated in unsubstantiated allegations of “shady business practices” in the Biden family.
- But if Comer genuinely believes these transactions clear the “shady business practices” bar, he might want to consider a parallel inquiry into his own family.
- According to Kentucky property records, Comer and his own brother have engaged in land swaps related to their family farming business.
- In one deal—also involving $200,000, as well as a shell company—the more powerful and influential Comer channeled extra money to his brother, seemingly from nothing.
- Other recent land swaps were quickly followed with new applications for special tax breaks, state records show.
- But unlike with the Bidens, Comer’s own history actually borders a conflict of interest between his official government role and his private family business—and it’s been going on for decades.
- While Comer and House GOP allies have tried to cast the Biden transactions as evidence of unsavory and possibly impeachable offenses, multiple news organizations—including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, FactCheck.org, and the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner—have all thrown cold water on the notion that the payments are evidence of anything other than a brother helping a brother.
- That hasn’t stopped Comer. But hypocrisy hasn’t stopped Comer before, either.
- Comer’s investigative efforts have so far failed to show that Joe Biden’s loans have any connection to family business dealings—let alone to actions while holding elected office. Comer, however, exercised government influence directly over his family’s industry for nearly 20 years.
- Comer’s official positions afforded him both insight and power in the agriculture industry, and he held them while he and his family ran a multimillion-dollar farming business.
- But Comer’s family company also has its own curiosities. For instance, it doesn’t appear to exist on paper.
- For years, the company Comer ran with his brother and father has been identified in news reports, official statements, Comer’s financial disclosures, and livestock sale bulletins as “Comer Land & Cattle.” But there is no record of an entity by that name in business filings with the commonwealth of Kentucky—or apparently with any other jurisdiction.
- In another swap—this one in April, 2019—James Comer gifted his brother, via a $1 transaction, his share of two inherited tracts in Clay County, Tennessee, with a share value being $175,000, according to the deed of sale. The value of James Comer’s share matches the value of the full property in 1994, when the brothers and their father first acquired it for $175,000, according to the deed.
- The same day that James Comer gave his brother that land, Chad Comer reciprocated with an apparently more valuable piece of property in Macon County, Tennessee—except James Comer didn’t disclose that value in the sale.
- Instead, Comer appears to have whited that number out, writing “exempt” in its place on the deed, then signing below. However, the land’s value can still be ascertained from the deed history in Macon County, where records show that their father had originally purchased the tract for $203,000 in 2015. That means that, while Comer appears to have netted a value of roughly $30,000 in the swap, he did not put that in the public record.
- While the amount of money involved in these transactions is not even in the millions, they’re comparable to the Biden loans. And the largest of those two loans, $200,000, is less than the 2015 value of Comer’s “exempt” purchase.
- It’s unclear how Comer first came into the family business. … What is clearer, however, is that the family business has changed.
- He then breezed through the shift from active farming to real estate speculation, saying he sold timber off the farm, raised cattle and crops there, and eventually took a “tobacco buyout” from the government.
- What Comer didn’t mention is that he had a government role related to that tobacco buyout.
- From 2005 to 2011, Comer served on the state legislature’s Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.
- Comer’s business focus has since shifted to real estate.
- While that may be true in the sense that Comer started out small, he also started out with the support of his father and his brother. He then rose to a position of considerable power and influence over his own industry, and—contrary to his own statement—he does appear to have inherited a great deal.
- “You read those real estate books, ‘How To Get Rich In Real Estate.’ I kind of—I’m not rich, but I accumulated wealth kind of that way,” he said.