When the media camped out in front of Senator Joe Biden's house on the day it was announced that he would be Barack Obama's running mate I wondered how did he afford his "family compound"?
After all, the Democrats made much of his "hard-scrabble" childhood (decades ago). He spent almost his entire adult life on a Senator's salary - which may seem munificent to the average American but certainly is not family compound money. His wife is a doctor and that might help. Maybe his son who was a high-level executive at a credit card company (MBNA) at a tender age and now lobbies for credit card companies (an area that Joe Biden has a great deal of influence over in the Senate) was of help.
However, he seems to have enjoyed some cozy arrangements that have benefited him enormously - benefits that are the invisible fringe benefits of being a powerful Senator.
He seems to have enjoyed a sweetheart real-estate deal courtesy of two political donors (Delaware's Rezkos?)
While their earnings probably would not be enough to purchase their Greenville estate today, the Bidens have managed to live in such splendor partly because of two financially rewarding real estate deals with political supporters.
In 1996, Biden sold a home in Greenville for the asking price of $1.2 million -- more than six times what he paid two decades earlier -- to John R. Cochran III, a top executive at the MBNA credit card bank that was a longtime political benefactor.
Using profits from that sale, Biden paid $350,000 cash to real estate executive and developer Keith D. Stoltz for 4.2 vacant acres -- a long, narrow lot a few miles from Biden's old home. Stoltz had bought that same lot five years earlier for the same price.
Stephen Pyle, who sold the land to Stoltz in 1991, said he was surprised that Stoltz, who lived on a neighboring estate, did not make any profit selling to Biden. "That doesn't sound like Keith Stoltz," Pyle, an artist who now lives in Texas, said of Stoltz, whose company recently proposed a $525 million project at nearby Barley Mill Plaza, a former DuPont Co. office campus.
Any other suspect benefits? How about having a "cush" job whose hours are cut in half but you get the same pay? Not bad-let's hope he is as good negotiating foreign policy deals for the nation as he is negotiating financial benefits for himself.
Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.), the Democratic vice presidential pick, is the only Member of the Senate who is also being paid to be an adjunct university professor, and his pay for that job did not decline when he cut his teaching time in half five years ago.
Professors must have a lot of time on their hands or how else can they so often spend time on political advocacy? Adjunct professors are part-time professors whose work requirements are even less stressful ( Barack Obama lectureship at the University of Chicago Law School also afforded him plenty of time to be an Illinois State Senator while he planned his political rise).
Biden receives the same pay for one-half the work. He has enjoyed this arrangement for 5 years. This is the same as a doubling of pay.
He is paid $20,500 as a stipend-which places him on the high-end of the pay scale for adjunct university professor. Even then his work duties seem slim, according to the teacher,
Robert Hayman, who was paid to take over the class:
Biden used to teach the course alone, Hayman said, but in 2003, the Senator “went to our dean ... and told him he just didn’t have the time to teach anymore.” The two decided that “maybe a possibility to reduce the time in the classroom was by taking on a co-teacher ... so they settled on me as his co-teacher, with the understanding then that while he wouldn’t be there for the whole class, he would be there for at least half the time.”
Hayman said that he manages the administrative duties for the class and that he reads all of the student papers and proposes grades to Biden. The Senator may then suggest changes to the grades Hayman has suggested, but Hayman said that is rare.
Hayman expressed skepticism regarding the amount of labor Biden devotes to the class:
“I haven’t had the audacity to ask when he has approved my grades, ‘Well, did you really read them?’” Hayman said.
The Senator remains heavily involved in designing the course syllabus and choosing topics for discussion, Hayman said, and Biden has been more active in suggesting grades for classroom participation. Biden’s primary role appears to be giving lectures and leading class discussions when he is present.
The course met for the first time Saturday, as Biden was being introduced as the Democratic vice presidential nominee. Hayman said that he and Biden spoke Friday and that the Senator still hopes to participate in the class this semester, but it is unlikely they will be able to arrange more than a single class visit.
From my experience at the University of Michigan Law School, class syllabi almost never are changed from year to year; hence, the ability to use study notes from previous years to prepare for exams.
Not bad, Senator.