Joe Biden's Democratic presidential campaign is reportedly going to great lengths to insist his team of economic policy advisers not publicly discuss their roles, fueling concerns that these advisers may not be appropriately disclosing their relationship to the former vice president while making television appearances.
The New York Times on Thursday reported that the campaign has "imposed strict rules to ensure their public silence." Republicans have sounded alarms about these efforts.
Kevin Hassett, a senior adviser to President Trump and former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, argued this policy means Biden is allowing economists to hide ties to him and appear on television to discuss policy -- reciting Biden talking points without disclosure to viewers.
“It is unethical to formally advise a candidate and publicly advocate the candidate’s views while concealing that relationship,” Hassett told the paper. “If he does have an economic team, then he should identify them. If he doesn’t identify them, then the advisers should, at the very least, identify themselves as Biden supporters when appearing in the media.”
Asked about the campaign policy, the Biden campaign took a shot at Trump’s handling of the economy and record on public disclosure.
“Dr. Hassett and his boss should both spend less time griping over cable news coverage and more time trying to fix this mess they got us into,” Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesman, told the New York Times. “If they want to talk about transparency, they can feel free to release Donald Trump’s tax returns any day.”
The Biden campaign did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment, and neither did Hassett.
President Trump has an in-house team of advisers, but also consults with Wall Street executives and other friends in private.
According to the Times, Biden has formed a committee to seek input from more than 100 left-leaning economists and researchers, but it’s unclear who many of them are and who has real sway with the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Policy experts close to the campaign said Biden relies on a core group of advisers who roughly match his ideological stance, which has swayed to the left since the election of the Obama-Biden administration in 2008.
In a memo to the economic committee, the Biden campaign warned participants not to refer to “the candidate or the campaign” in documents.
“You are not to disclose the names of others who are involved in the committee to nonmembers,” the memo said.
Members of the committee could tell friends or family of their involvement but were not to disclose their role on social media or add it to their LinkedIn bio, the paper said.
Another section advises the private economic council against talking to the media. “Simply put, do not talk to the press,” it reads.
“You are welcome to express yourself in blog or social media posts, letters to the editor, op-eds, emails, etc.,” the memo said. “You may identify yourself as a ‘volunteer’ or ‘supporter’ of the campaign but make clear that the views you express are your own.”
Gabriel Zucman, who helped draw up Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax, referred a reporter who asked about his ties to the Biden team to an email address with Biden’s press office. It was the same address campaign officials had told members of the new economic policy committee to give to reporters when asked about their ties to Biden.
The campaign did confirm to the Times receiving regular briefings from three economists entrenched in the Democratic party’s Washington establishment-- Jared Bernstein and Ben Harris, chief economists for Biden during his time in the White House, and Heather Boushey, top economist for Hillary Clinton’s transition team during her 2016 run for the presidency.