Former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs attacked former Hill International CEO David Richter over alleged ties to the brother of a leading Democratic presidential candidate, though that attack gets some of the facts wrong.
“David’s so-called business experience amounts to using money to buy political access in order to line his pockets at taxpayer expense,” Gibbs said. “One did it through his daddy and the other through his brother, but in both cases David Richter and James Biden are poster boys for entitlement, crony capitalism and are card-carrying members of ‘The Swamp’ that President Trump has railed against for years.”
James Biden, the younger brother of former Vice President Joe Biden, was once employed by Hillstone International, a subsidiary of Hill International.
That much is true, though Richter denied having any ties to the former vice president’s family.
“I have no ties to the Bidens. Jim Biden worked at a Hill subsidiary for a couple of years. That subsidiary did not report to me. I was not in favor of investing in that company,” Richter said. “After several years of failure, it was shut down at my insistence, and I’ve never seen or heard from Jim Biden since.”
While he later became the firm’s CEO, Richter was president and COO of Hill international while it controlled Hillstone, where James Biden was a minority partner, though he claimed his presence helped grow the firm over the years he worked there.
There’s nothing to suggest the firm ever took taxpayer dollars, and that claim appears to be based on a series of misreported articles pushed by conservative media outlets during President Barack Obama’s administration.
“It never pursued any work with the U.S. government,” Richter said, referring to Hillstone. “It got one contract with a South Korean real estate developer to help build housing in Iraq that never moved forward because their company never got financing.”
The Gibbs’ campaign’s erroneous claim refers to a $1.5 billion contract with the TRAC Development Group, a South Korean real estate developer, to build low-cost homes in Iraq.
It’s worth noting that Hill, one of the largest construction management companies in the world, has had smaller contracts with the State Department, but none of those belonged to Hillstone, the subsidiary that employed Biden.
Conservative news outlets widely misreported that contract as belonging to the government in 2012 while pushing claims that Hillstone benefited from the political ties of James Biden, whose brother was then vice president.
The erroneous reports appear to stem from a Fox Business article that correctly reported the source of the contract.
The deal was contingent upon financing from the Iraqi government. That funding never came, Richter said, so the deal fell through.
Conservative outlets have renewed their focus on Biden’s family at various points within the last year, and they’re likely to keep their eyes on him through the coming months — further if Joe Biden secures the Democratic nod to take on President Donald Trump.
The false claims about Hillstone have reemerged among the attacks leveraging the former vice president’s family, and given Trump’s use of such attacks against Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, they’re likely to recur if he gets the nomination.
“When President Trump is prosecuting the case against Joe Biden and how he and his family have profited off years of government service, what the heck is David Richter going to be able to say?” Gibbs said. “Richter will be completely conflicted on what will likely be a major talking point in the Presidential race. He doesn’t have the credibility to help President Trump push this message, nor make it an issue against Andy Kim. That would be a disaster for Republicans.”
Kim, a vulnerable first-term congressman, endorsed Biden last week. It’s likely that the presidential race will have a sizable impact on downballot House races in districts like the second.
“I, David Richter, not Hill International, have no ties with the Bidens, Jim Biden or any other Bidens,” Richter said.
This story was updated at 11:36 a.m.