President Joe Biden's younger brother, Frank Biden, worked for the last year of the Obama administration with a small consulting firm that was involved in federal lobbying on behalf of an oil distribution company.
The consultancy, the little-known Delmarva Group, turned to lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates to represent Maryland-based Chesapeake Petroleum and Supply in targeting Congressional lawmakers and the Department of Defense in 2016, as Joe Biden did in the last month of his second term served as vice president.
The development is the most recent example of how Frank Biden's business relationships sometimes coincided with his older brother's tenure. Last week, CNBC reported that Frank Biden had advertised his relationship with his brother and shared commitment to environmental issues in a law firm newspaper ad that ran on inauguration day.
This revelation was reprimanded by the White House because Joe Biden tried to limit the links between his administration and his family's business relationships.
"The president's name should not be used in connection with any commercial activity, to suggest his approval or support, or in any way that could reasonably be understood," a White House official told CNBC. White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated the government's position at a press conference last week.
According to his LinkedIn page, Frank Biden was "Member Director" of the Delmarva Group from 2015. Joseph Abruzzo, former Florida legislature and owner of the now-defunct company, said Monday that Frank Biden did not hold a formal position with the company until Joe Biden resigns.
"I have given advice and advice based on my business experience. I have had very limited exposure to Delmarva," Frank Biden told CNBC on Monday.
Abruzzo told CNBC that he and Frank Biden started planning for Delmarva in 2015.
"Frank Biden and I started planning the business in 2015 and had discussions until 2016," said Abruzzo. "Structural education and Frank's formal engagement began in 2017."
CNBC reviewed several documents, including public records and lobbying disclosure reports, and financial disclosure reports in Abruzzo, to determine the links between the Delmarva Group, Cassidy and Chesapeake Petroleum.
The lobbying registration report and quarterly documents below list "Delmarva Group on behalf of Chesapeake Petroleum" as a customer.
The Florida address given in the lobbying reports corresponds to the location on Delmarva's state records. Delmarva is known as a reference to the Mid-Atlantic Peninsula, which includes Delaware, which Joe Biden has represented in the Senate for over three decades, as well as parts of Maryland and Virginia.
Frank Biden previously told CNBC that he "will never be hired by a lobbyist or lobby company". In fact, there is no evidence that Biden was involved in lobbying for Chesapeake. Frank Biden has another LinkedIn page that only highlights his work at Berman Law Group, the Florida law firm that bought the Jan. 20 ad to promote the younger Biden's work as a consultant.
Abruzzo said in a long statement that Frank Biden was not involved in any matters related to the lobbying of Delmarva-Cassidy.
"Frank Biden was not involved in any Cassidy and Associates-related meetings, discussions, or acquisitions in 2016, or lobbying Cassidy and Associates on behalf of Chesapeake Petroleum and Supply," said Abruzzo. "Frank Biden has not attended any meeting with Cassidy and Associates or any government agency or official, nor did he communicate in any way on behalf of Chesapeake Petroleum and Supply Co. in 2016 or any other year with any government agency or official. It never was a meeting. " Federal government entities acquired or procured with or through Delmarva Group, LLC. To the knowledge of the Delmarva Group, Chesapeake Petroleum and Supply Co. has decided not to expand the federal government's practice. "
He didn't say what Biden was doing for Delmarva. Abruzzo added that Delmarva became inactive in 2018 and closed in January 2020. The Iowa Congregation, the nation's first Democratic primary nomination contest, was held on February 3 of this year.
In an email, Frank Biden said, "Joe is absolutely correct," referring to what the Abruzzo said.
Frank Biden's LinkedIn page reads under the heading Delmarva: "Strategic consultants at the point of sale. Alternative energy and environmental solutions."
Chesapeake Petroleum is "an oil distribution company that has operated in metropolitan DC for over 45 years," according to Oil Monster, an oil industry website. The website adds that Chesapeake "specializes in passenger car engine oils and stocks well-known brands such as Mobil, Castrol, Motorcraft, Mopar and Exxon."
Chesapeake Petroleum has not returned a request for comment.
The Abruzzo financial statements that he submitted as a member of the Florida Legislature indicate that he owned 50% of Delmarva. He is listed as a company director in the company's state records.
In 2019, months before Delmarva filed for liquidation, Biden's campaign published his clean energy proposal. In it, Biden promises his campaign would not take money from oil, gas, and coal companies or executives.
Biden's plan says he will demand "aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations," the campaign suggests. Biden recently revoked approval for the Keystone Pipeline, an oil pipeline between the United States and Canada.
A lobbying registration report shows that Delmarva was a client of Cassidy & # 39; s, the lobbying firm, on behalf of Chesapeake Petroleum. Vernon Simmons, now Senior Vice President at Cassidy, signed up to lobby Delmarva in April 2016. According to the document, the focus was on "supporting the lubricant wholesalers and automotive suppliers and marketing products to federal customers". The address on the registration form matches the address on Delmarva's government records.
Simmons has not returned a request for comment.
The lobbying report for the second quarter of 2016 shows that Simmons approached members of the House and Senate between April and June to promote "DoD direct sales of lubricants and vehicle accessories for the Delmarva Group on" behalf of Chesapeake Partners.
In the third quarter of 2016, a lobbying report showed that Simmons hired the Department of Defense and Congress for the same reason.
Cassidy received $ 40,000 for lobbying, the records show. It's not clear how much Chesapeake paid Delmarva for consulting services, or whether Chesapeake or Delmarva paid Cassidy.