WASHINGTON — Want to get away?
President Biden left the White House on Tuesday evening for a tropical vacation in St. Croix to ring in the New Year – as much of the country faces extreme cold and snowfall that has killed at least 65 people and canceled 10,000 flights since Christmas Eve.
The 80-year-old commander-in-chief is basking in the Caribbean sun by an in-ground pool at a three-bedroom beachfront villa with stunning views of the largest of the US Virgin Islands.
Meanwhile, travel chaos, widespread power outages and rising single-digit weather-related fatalities continue across the Midwest and East Coast, but especially in Western New York, where at At least 32 people died in Buffalo’s Erie County amid more than 4 feet of snow.
It’s unclear who owns the vacation property or whether Biden will pay for his stay, though he has a long history of free stays at the homes of wealthy Democratic donors.
The landlord declined to identify himself or disclose whether Biden will pay when contacted through the real estate company handling the rental.
Biden boarded Air Force One with first lady Jill Biden and two of her grandchildren — Natalie and Hunter — as well as first daughter Ashley Biden and her husband Howard Krein. It’s unclear whether other family members who usually attend such trips, such as scandal-ridden first son Hunter Biden, also travel.
The president has stayed at the same St. Croix property on previous visits to U.S. territory during his vice presidency.
Biden visited St. Croix at least five times between 2014 and 2016, according to local reports, plus at least one additional time to celebrate the New Year less than four months before launching his presidential campaign in 2019.
The oldest president ever said last month he planned to make a final decision on his re-election in ‘early’ 2023 after he and the first lady ‘had some time to slip away during one week”.
Biden told reporters on a Thanksgiving trip to Nantucket Island that he ‘didn’t have’ 2024 talks with his family while at the compound of private equity billionaire David Rubenstein. – where he stayed twice, probably for free – as president.
Biden has relaxed for free at other vacation spots. For example, the president asked to stay for free in August at the $20 million vacation home on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, owned by Maria Allwin, the widow of hedge fund founder James Allwin. Biden had previously stayed there for free after befriending Allwin during his vice presidency.
Biden visited the Virgin Islands for years during the winter – leaving the cold behind for temperatures in the 70s and 80s. After he and former President Barack Obama won the 2008 election, Biden visited a property owned by his brother James on Little Water Island near St. Thomas.
It’s the president’s first trip to the Virgin Islands since taking office last year and St. Croix’s convoluted residential address system and property registry make it difficult for the vacation home owner to see his identity easily. deducted.
Biden had intended to visit nearby Puerto Rico during his first winter in office – in part due to anticipated security and press pressure on the small Virgin Islands – but had to abandon the trip due to the massive wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19[FEMININE
Si Biden reçoit gratuitement le séjour à Sainte-Croix, il est censé divulguer la concession d’hébergement sur les formulaires de divulgation financière annuels qui sont rendus publics en mai. Le formulaire exige que le président et le vice-président divulguent les séjours gratuits d’une valeur supérieure à 390 $. Les experts en éthique affirment que l’exception de déclaration « hospitalité personnelle » sur ce formulaire ne couvre pas les cas où le propriétaire n’est pas présent.
Walter Shaub, directeur du Bureau américain de l’éthique gouvernementale sous l’ancien président Barack Obama, tweeté l’année dernière pendant le séjour de Biden dans l’enceinte de Rubenstein à Nantucket: “Juste un rappel amical, [Biden] will have to pay fair market value for the stay in Nantucket or disclose the gift of free lodging in his annual disclosure in May 2022. I’m not saying he wouldn’t, just a reminder not to let it slip through the cracks fillet.
Shaub wrote that ”
The disclosure rule isn’t strictly enforced, but it could provide an avenue for House Republican scrutiny when the GOP takes over the lower house of Congress next year.
As vice president, Biden did not disclose any gifted travel expenses to St. Croix on his annual financial disclosure form. However, he also did not list his free stays at Allwin’s home on Kiawah, despite a source close to the family telling the Post that he “never paid.”