Comer's Family Business Is Far Shadier Than Biden's Finances

James Comer
Rep. James Comer

In the last two weeks, Rep. James Comer has claimed that President Joe Biden “laundered China money,” accused Biden of “influence peddling,” and issued subpoenas to members of Biden’s family. Comer has based these actions on the “discovery” of transactions that Biden made no effort to disguise, including a $200,000 loan Biden extended to his brother and which his brother later repaid.

However, as The Daily Beast reports, Comer was engaged in a series of business dealings with his own brother. Those dealings, which included a $200,000 payment, were nowhere near as straightforward as the dealings between Joe and James Biden. Comer’s deal involved not only a big payment but multiple land swamps, shell companies, and requests for special tax breaks.

As members of the Biden family were being accused of “shady business practices,” it seems that Comer has a forest's worth of shade.

In a press release about the check from Biden’s brother, Comer stated, “Even if this was a personal loan repayment, it’s still troubling that Joe Biden’s ability to be paid back by his brother depended on the success of his family’s shady financial dealings.” By this, Comer seems to mean that Biden was repaid soon after his brother received a payment from an American health care company.

But what happened between Comer and his brother is a lot more mysterious. According to The Daily Beast, Comer’s family has for years been identified in news accounts as owning “Comer Land & Cattle.” As of 2018, Comer listed this as an asset worth $3 million.

However, no such entity appears to exist in business filings. It reportedly did at one time, but there’s been no such business for years. At least, not legally. It’s not registered as a business in Kentucky. It’s not registered anywhere else. A past press release showed him as the owner of “James Comer Jr. Farms,” which also doesn’t appear on paper to be a business entity. Comer’s Facebook page also lists him as the owner of “Comer Family Farms,” which isn’t listed as a business entity in Kentucky, according to the secretary of state’s website.

Much of Comer’s business activity seems to follow inheriting land in Kentucky following his father’s death in 2019. But exactly what happened with that land is the opposite of transparent. In one case, Comer reportedly sold his interest in a piece of land to his brother, then bought it back five months later, slipping his brother $18,000 in the process. That purchase ran through a shell company owned by Comer, the value of which doubled in two years. That company appears to have dealt exclusively with agricultural land deals at a time when Comer was on the House Agriculture Committee.

Comer’s family also swapped large tracts of land in Tennessee. That includes handing his brother one tract valued at $175,000 as a “gift.” In exchange, Comer reportedly got another tract that The Daily Beast describes as “apparently more valuable” without recording the cost of that land. The value of these transactions appears to be larger than even the largest loan that Biden gave to his brother.

Comer also seems to have benefited directly from a “tobacco buyout” of land he purchased while serving on the Kentucky legislature’s Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee. This means that he helped set the rate for the purchase of his own property.

Much of Comer’s story seems to be a more rural version of the Donald Trump story. He started out making small land purchases with the help of his father and brother, inherited larger tracts of land when his father died, and has made millions engaging in land speculation. The difference is that for much of this time, Comer was either involved in the Kentucky legislature or the House Agriculture Committee in positions that gave him insider knowledge and a direct advantage.

Comer also has his own Trump-style bank connection. When he sought a line of credit up to $1 million, he found it at South Central Bank—the same bank where Comer had been on the board of directors for 12 years.

If all of this makes Comer look like a country mini-Trump, that’s probably a description that would make him proud. But it would also seem to make his family finances much more worthy of scrutiny than anything he’s claimed about Joe Biden.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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