As we’re slowly nearing the election year, top candidates from both parties are spending millions of dollars on getting the best out of their campaigns. As they organize rallies and advertise their ideas, they’re fighting to get the most publicity of all the others. So when someone decides to pay for ads aimed against you, that never spells good news for a presidential candidate.
That’s what has happened to Joe Biden, former vice president and one of the leading Democratic candidates for the 2020 elections. Namely, a private citizen, Shirley Shawe, has spent $500,000 of her personal money on ads to show up in early-voting states. Those ads will lambaste Joe Biden for a business dispute the candidate had with Shawe’s son. Allegedly, this dispute had a severe negative impact on her son’s company. The ad doesn’t focus on Biden’s presidential campaign or the 2020 elections. Instead, Shawe decided to unearth a piece of business arcana. The ad talks about the Delaware Chancery Court system, whose purpose is to steer business disputes between Delaware-based companies, such as the one Shawe’s son owned.
What the Ad Is About
The narrator in the ad describes the Delaware court as far from being open to everyone, labeling it “too white and too male.” The ad slams the Chancery Court while simultaneously putting it in close ties with Biden, showing highlights of a 14-minute debate between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. The debate took place during a 2005 Senate hearing. Back then, Biden was a senator, while Warren was a Harvard law professor. Biden, according to Shawe’s ad, expressed his corruption by defending the system Warren was attacking.
During the hearing, Warren and Biden went back and forth on the accountability and openness of bankruptcy courts, which were a separate body from the Chancery Court. The transcript shows Warren drawing attention on it to Biden. The ad, however, was doctored in a way to make it seem as if Biden was defending the openness of the Chancery Court while Warren was against it.
Shawe has a personal interest in the Chancery Court, as it originates from her son’s company’s legal problems. The translation software company, TransPerfect, partook in years-long litigation in the chancery system, which caused the company to lose a lot of money. At the time, Shawe owned a 1% stake in TransPerfect, according to a local station WMDT-TV. A local news report released a quote which claimed that the legal dispute cost the company $250 million.
If all goes according to plan, the ad will begin airing later this week in New Hampshire and Iowa, the two states who hold the earliest primaries. Moreover, the ad will also show up in Biden’s home state of Delaware. Both Warren’s and Biden’s campaign office have addressed the ad, asking for it to be taken down.
Biden’s national press secretary, Jamal Brown, released a statement, saying that the ad manipulated footage to show Biden in the wrong light. According to Brown, it misrepresents Biden’s position, making it seem as if the then-senator talked about a different court. Brown continued to say that the ad was a perfect example of how third-party funds “poisoned” national politics with false ads. Brown said that there shouldn’t be a place for such ads during this race.
When the media contacted Warren’s campaign about the ad which features the candidate a lot, they simply responded by saying that they should take down the ad. Deputy communications director for Warren, Chris Hayden, said that Warren was against individuals making a massive impact on the primaries with their donations. Hayden reminded the press that Warren was always vocal about Super PACs or wealthy individuals staying out of the primary.
As of yet, Shawe has declined to give an interview to the media. However, Juda Engelmayer, Shawe’s press representative, said that Shawe was a Republican who had no plans of helping Warren’s candidacy with the ad.
Afterward, Shawe herself released a statement in which she revealed she would press on with running the ads. She claimed she had the right to use her voice, as any other citizen, and she wouldn’t back down until the corruption at the Chancery Court became a topic of debate. Reportedly, she will also extend her efforts to printing ads in newspapers.
Joe Biden has bought TV ads in Iowa which talk about his ideas on health care. But he’s one of the rare Democratic candidates who have done so. The perceived negative tone of Biden’s ad could have an effect on some local voters, especially given the fact that it’s a significant investment for Biden.
Biden and Warren Debate Next Month
The ad addresses corporate interests, which can be a topic of dispute between Warren and Biden in the next month’s Democratic primary debate, the third one this year. The debate will be the first time Warren and Biden go face-to-face during this electoral campaign. So far, they haven’t publicly criticized one another. When asked about it, Biden said that he would be himself and that she would be herself; they plant to leave it to the people to judge them.
Warren’s career has been largely influenced by her fight against corporate interests. The 70-year-old has declined to hold big-money fundraisers. In her own words, when she joined the presidential race, she was adamant to “walk the walk.” In her speech last month, she said that oil companies, the Koch brothers, and multi-billion corporations invested into politicians, which she disapproved of. She claimed she didn’t go to any private fundraiser nor that she was acquainted with CEOs or millionaires. “It’s a grassroots movement,” Warren said.