FIRST ON FOX: After leaving the White House as an adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden during the summer of 2014 and becoming the president of a DC-based company founded by a Chinese executive with ties to officials at some of the highest levels of the Communist Party of China, Francis “Fran” Person visited the White House at least seven times between 2015 and 2016.
Person, who emailed with Hunter Biden and his longtime business partner Eric Schwerin frequently about business dealings associated with the Harves Group in 2015 and 2016, made multiple visits to the White House during that time, including attending a White House holiday reception in December 2015 with Bo Zhang, the Chinese executive who founded the Harves Group.
White House visitor logs from 2015 and 2016 show that Person met with his sister, Anne Marie Muldoon (Person), who previously worked for Schwerin and Hunter at Rosemont Seneca Partners before joining Vice President’s Biden’s office in May 2014, at least four times. Another listing for Person in March 2016 was a meeting with Steve Ricchetti, who was Biden’s chief of staff from 2013 until 2017 and is currently Biden’s White House counselor.
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Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, speaks to guests during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, April 18, 2022, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Person, who served in the Obama administration as an adviser to Vice President Biden and a special assistant to President Obama between 2009 and 2014, left the White House in late July 2014 for a “special advisory role” at the University of South Carolina, his alma mater, before becoming the president of the Harves Group less than six months later in January 2015, where he “[h]elped guide the formation” of the DC-based company and established “global partnerships” in China.
A Politico profile piece on Person’s exit from the White House in 2014 revealed that Person traveled with then-Vice President Biden to 49 of the 50 countries he traveled to between 2009 and 2014, including China and Serbia. The article also included quotes from Biden and then-second lady Jill Biden praising Person.
“In times of urgency, everyone from the Secret Service to my communications and policy teams, the first guy they go to is Fran,” Biden said.
“Fran has been like a son to Joe and me,” Jill Biden said. “For eight years, we traveled the country, shared holidays together … Fran may be leaving the office, but he will always be a part of our family.”
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President Biden and first lady Jill Biden speak with the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., via teleconference in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, Friday, Dec. 24, 2021.
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Fran Person responded to a Fox News Digital inquiry Thursday evening about the White House visits, saying that they were “personal in nature” and that he was “visiting with old colleagues and friends” that he served with for six years during the Obama administration.
“Those visits were personal in nature, visiting with old colleagues and friends whom I served with during my six years working there, and completely unrelated to my work with Harves Entertainment which was creating experiences and attractions with iconic brands across the sports and entertainment industry,” Person said.
Person did not address whether he or Zhang communicated with or met with Obama-Biden administration officials outside of the White House to discuss Harves-related business deals. He also did not address whether he or Hunter have introduced Zhang to Biden.
FOX Business previously reported that Hunter’s private equity firm, Rosemont Seneca Advisors, held financial interests in multiple Harves affiliates.
In March 2017, Schwerin emailed Hunter breaking down their firm’s interests, including a 5 percent stake with Harves Amusement Parks and ownership in Harves Sports and Entertainment, both of which fall under the Washington, D.C.-based Harves Group.
Hunter’s introduction to the Harves Group came nearly two years earlier when Fran, then the president of the Harves Group, messaged him in July 2015 and invited him to meet Zhang and his family in China.
“Bo Zhang and his family would host us,” Person wrote in the email. “They are a great family with great respect and relationships in China. Bo graduated from American Univ and is in his late 20’s, and his parents own Harves Century Group of Shenyang – which is a top tier private chinese real estate development firm.”
Person’s email went on to say that Zhang is “being groomed to take over his family’s dynasty” and that the trip wasn’t about selling Biden on anything, but more about “grow[ing] that relationship,” adding that “there will be plenty of big things that come down the road that we can work on.”
“His mom is actually the Chairman of the company, which is unique in China,” Person wrote. “They are very private, and wouldn’t tell anyone about you coming. Bo’s father-in-law is actually the Governor of Hainan (Chinese Hawaii), which he doesn’t advertise at all.”
Zhang’s father-in-law, Liu Cigui, was later elected as the Communist Party secretary of the Hainan province in 2017. He is considered a “loyalist” of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Harves Century Group, the China-based entity owned by Zhang’s parents, is backed by the state-owned China Development Bank. It is the parent company of multiple U.S.-based Harves affiliates, including Harves Investment Group (HIG), Harves Sports, and Harves Global Entertainment, where Person is now the CEO, according to his LinkedIn. He is also the CEO and co-founder of DreamCube Innovations, a company that Fast Company described as an “enticing new technology and brand that’s already signed deals with the NBA as well as with the Manchester United soccer club” that is set up “across China.”
It does not appear that Hunter could make the China trip that Person had pitched him on in 2015. However, multiple emails reviewed by FOX Business showed that Person and Zhang had met with Hunter and Schwerin in Washington on numerous occasions.
They had also emailed back-and-forth coordinating potential Harves-related business deals. Hunter referred to Zhang as his “good friend and business colleague” in a 2016 email.
One of the names copied on the email was James Bulger, the nephew of notorious Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger. In addition to appearing to help Biden get a Chinese business license for his uncle’s telemedicine company just a few years earlier, Bulger played an influential role in Hunter’s Chinese business ventures.
In addition to Schwerin, Hunter, and Person communicating about business deals, Hunter worked behind the scenes sending email pitches to raise money for Person’s unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2016, where he received $2,700 each from Schwerin and Hunter, including $1,000 from then-Second Lady Jill Biden. Zhang and his mother, Jinglan Shao, both maxed out to Fran’s campaign with two $2,700 donations each.
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A White House official deflected on a media inquiry from Fox News Digital about Person’s visits to the White House during the Obama administration by criticizing “transparency” issues in the Trump administration.
“These are all meetings that have been public for years because both the Obama-Biden Administration and this administration released visitor records for the sake of transparency – a practice discontinued during the Trump years,” the official said.
Cameron Cawthorne is a Fox News Digital editor