Blinken, Austin Past Ties to Investment Firms Completely Forgotten by Media
The Biden administration isn't a revolving door to private sector riches, the door is wide open
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Top officials in the Biden administration who have been the most vocal backers of providing Ukraine with more arms than Kyiv knows what to do with have deep ties to consulting and investment firms that has raised concerns in the past about the government’s revolving door with the defense industry.
The Presstitutes no longer discuss these ties because they are on the same team as the government when it comes to Ukraine. More weapons, more weapons, more weapons.
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Two of the biggest names in the Biden administration with these past ties are Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They have been some of the top proponents of donating weapons to Ukrainians.
BLINKEN: “Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding. Russia has sought, as its principal aim, to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. That has failed.”
AUSTIN: “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine. It had already lost a lot of military capability and a lot of its troops, quite frankly, and we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability.”
TRENDPOST: These two want Americans to believe Russia is losing, but when was the last time that a country winning a war needed an emergency injection of $40B to sustain its effort?
One of the names that kept popping up about a year or so ago was Blinken and Austin’s ties to a little-known investment firm called Pine Island Capital Partner.
Note to readers: Pine Island Capital and the Department of Defense did not immediately respond to emails from The Trends Journal. The State Department told us that Blinken has no financial interest in Pine Island and no ties with the fund.
In December 2020, Pine Island Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company that claimed to have “unusual access to information” said in its SEC filings that it was “well-suited to take advantage of the current and future opportunities present in the aerospace, defense and government service industries.” (Austin also sat on the board of Raytheon Technologies in 2020, according to OpenSecrets.org. Forbes estimated that Austin’s net worth is about $7 million after serving on boards in retirement.)
From CNBC in December 2020: Pine Island’s team includes Tony Blinken, Biden’s choice to be secretary of State, and Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin, his nominee for Defense secretary. Austin was listed on the original SPAC proposal, while Blinken was left off as he took a leave of absence from the firm when he joined the Biden campaign.
Axios reported a month earlier that Pine Island was formed in 2018 by John Thain, the CEO who reportedly got his office renovated for $1 million while his Bank of America Merrill Lynch took a major loss in 2009; Phil Cooper, the former Goldman Sachs buyout big, and Clyde Tuggle, ex-Coca-Cola executive.
The Intercept reported in January 2021: Blinken is an “adviser” to the firm. Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin is also affiliated with the firm, as is Michèle Flournoy, who was also being considered for defense secretary. Director of National Intelligence designate Avril Haines is employed by Westexec Advisors, the Blinken-headed consulting firm that is closely associated with Pine Island. Pine Island went public six days before Blinken’s nomination was announced.
“The various associations between top players in Biden’s orbit and SPACs raise concerns that they won’t be subject to serious scrutiny. The Pine Island SPAC is especially concerning because, by its own admission, connections to revolving-door figures are a driving facet of its value proposition, and it raised hundreds of millions of dollars as many of its principals were considered top contenders for Biden administration posts,” David Segal, the executive director of Demand Progress, told The Intercept at the time.
Segal said Pine Island’s SEC filing was “astonishing.”
“This is not an example of people who happen to work at a big company — these are partners at a firm whose stated business model is to profit from the revolving door and connections gained from time in government,” Jacobin magazine reported.
(A company spokesperson told The Daily Beast in December 2020 that these officials would “divest themselves of any investment in Pine Island if confirmed for a position in the administration.”)
In November 2020, The New York Times ran a story titled, “Biden Aides’ Ties to Consulting and Investment Firms Pose Ethics Test,” which pointed out how Blinken’s WestExec Advisors and Pine Island Capital Partners have “featured an overlapping roster of politically connected officials” that was the Biden administration’s “first test of transparency and ethics.”
The two firms are examples of how former officials leverage their expertise, connections and access on behalf of corporations and other interests, without in some cases disclosing details about their work, including the names of the clients or what they are paid.
A spokesman for Biden told the paper that Blinken and any other partners in WestExec or Pine Island would exit their firms and sell ownership stakes if confirmed. The spokesman said they would also make “proper” client disclosures.
Biden’s transition office did not confirm to the paper that all clients would be disclosed, the report said. The paper said there are confidentiality agreements that WestExec cited explaining why it would not reveal some of its clients.
“As a general matter, many of our clients require us to sign nondisclosure agreements, which are a standard business practice to protect confidential information,” WestExec told the paper. “We are legally and ethically bound by those agreements.”
The company did not immediately respond to a Trends Journal inquiry.
Mandy Smithberger of the Project on Government Oversight, told Politico magazine that firms like WestExec become “strategic consultants” instead of registered lobbyists in order to avoid disclosing their clients and services, according to Influencewatch.org.
The Intercept reported on 6 July 2021 that it was an unusual situation for WestExec, a single firm, to launch 15 senior officials. Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, says that government ethics laws written decades ago aren’t equipped to handle a situation.
“Yes, they’re employed by the government, I’ll grant you that. But are they actually working for the American people or not? Where does their loyalty lie?” said Clark. “The private sector can in essence co-opt the public sector.”