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School Pays Biden Healthy Stipend

A half-dozen House Members also are paid as adjunct faculty, but no other Senators are, and as Roll Call reported in July, some Members’ pay for part-time teaching gigs appears to be much higher than other adjunct professors. At the undergraduate level, adjunct faculty are usually paid anywhere in the range of $3,000 to $6,000 per course per semester, but experts in the field note that universities generally have broad leeway in adjunct faculty salaries. The pay scale is also generally higher in graduate programs and business schools.

Biden’s annual teaching salary makes him the third-highest-paid Congressional professor. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) was paid $22,500 last year to teach one course in the spring at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, and Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) earned $21,000 to teach a single course in both the spring and fall semesters at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, which is just outside his Congressional district.

Just behind Biden is Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who was paid $20,000 by Mills College in Oakland, Calif. — her alma mater — to team-teach a truncated course on politics for one semester.

Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) team-teaches a course at the University of Pennsylvania on organizational dynamics and essentially takes no salary. Brady’s financial disclosure form lists his income from Penn as $3.

Biden is not the only Member of Congress to teach at Widener. In 1999, then-Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) reported being paid $10,000 by Widener to team-teach a fall semester undergraduate course titled “Issues in American National Security.”

Mary Allen, a spokeswoman for the Widener School of Law, said that while the university does not disclose staff salaries, “there is a range of what adjuncts earn” and Biden “falls within the range ... he is not the highest-paid adjunct.”

“We are very comfortable with what he earns,” Allen said. “It is clear to us he is not doing this for the money.”

The Senate Ethics Manual states that Senators must get prior approval from the Ethics Committee to accept a paid teaching job and that the compensation for teaching must be “reasonable and derived from the institution’s general funds,” not earmarks or appropriations.

Biden’s academic employer is also a supplicant before Congress. The university has employed lobbyists since 2001 to seek federal appropriations earmarks and has succeeded on several occasions. According to a White House earmark database, Widener received two earmarks in the 2005 appropriations cycle, one for just less than $1 million for a clinical psychology program and another for $99,000 for technology infrastructure upgrades at the law school’s Harrisburg campus.

In the first half of 2008, Widener has paid $40,000 to the National Group, a lobbying firm that includes William Oldaker, a longtime political ally of Biden’s. Oldaker has been active in several Biden campaigns and also represented the Senator in his 1989 appeal to the Federal Election Commission to allow him to accept Widener’s teaching job. Roll Call reported at the time that Biden asked the FEC to declare his teaching income a “stipend” instead of “honoraria,” which faced stricter limits.

The National Group is the lobbying arm of the law/lobbying firm of Oldaker, Biden & Belair, the second name belonging to Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. Hunter Biden, a registered lobbyist, does not represent Widener and has not been listed as a National Group lobbyist since 2006.

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