Biden Mega-Donor, Dubbed ‘One of My Closest Friends’ by President, Set to Gain from Apple Watch Prohibition

A prominent Democratic mega-donor, referred to by Joe Biden as one of his closest friends, is positioned to benefit from the prohibition of the latest Apple Watch model—a ban that President Biden supports.

Despite facing a temporary hold from a federal appeals court as Apple contests the ban amid an extended legal battle with medical technology firm Masimo, the ban has been enforced. Masimo’s CEO, Joe Kiani, a significant donor to Democrats and a strong supporter of Biden, contributed millions, including a $1 million donation to the Biden Foundation.

The legal dispute resulted in the US International Trade Commission ruling against Apple, stating that its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models infringed on Masimo’s blood-oxygen level reading technology patent, leading to the import ban. The White House opted not to overturn the ban by Christmas Day, choosing not to intervene through US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court temporarily suspended the ban after Apple submitted a formal appeal and secured an emergency order to halt the prohibition.

The financial implications for both Apple and Masimo remain undisclosed.

Joe Kiani, having fostered particularly strong connections with Biden, was singled out by the president in 2019 during an event where Biden referred to him as “one of my closest friends,” as reported by the Associated Press.

At 59, Kiani, an Iranian American entrepreneur, ranks among Biden’s major contributors. Apart from contributing $1 million to the Biden Foundation, he allocated $750,000 to the pro-Biden Unite the Country PAC in 2020, contributing almost $3 million through bundling to the president’s campaign, super PAC, and inaugural committee. He is a noteworthy supporter of the Democratic Party.

A spokesperson for Masimo emphasized that neither the CEO nor his team had lobbied Biden or Tai regarding the Apple Watch dispute, while alleging that Apple CEO Tim Cook had initiated his lobbying campaign.

“This dispute has never been about money for Masimo,” the spokesman said. “The company’s motivation has always been and remains to hold Apple accountable for infringing Masimo’s patents and to restore integrity to the marketplace.”

In December 2022, Kiani and his wife, Sarah, attended a state dinner honoring France’s President Emmanuel Macron. Subsequently, they were guests at a White House reception commemorating Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, in March 2023.

“Thank you @POTUS and @FLOTUS for celebrating #Nowruz at the White House,” Kiani posted on X. “You really have been the President for all Americans.”

In April, Kiani and his wife hosted Hunter Biden and his wife, Melissa Cohen, at their expansive 8,000-acre Kiani Preserve, situated three hours north of Los Angeles. The Santa Ynez property, valued at $50 million, features a main house and guest house, complete with amenities such as a pool, tennis courts, and a vineyard.

Building connections with the Biden family extends beyond hospitality; Kiani extended a job offer to Caroline Biden, troubled niece of Joe Biden, in July 2018, as revealed in emails and text messages found on Hunter Biden’s laptop.

The offered position would have enabled her to relocate to Los Angeles, where she aimed to be near her cousin Hunter during his two-year probation for a stolen credit card. However, she dismissed the offer, deeming it effectively “below minimum wage.”

In reciprocal gestures, the Bidens have also assisted the Kianis.

In 2021, Kiani was appointed to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, granting him a influential platform as the sole body tasked with providing science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President and the White House.

Catherine, Kiani’s daughter, secured her initial post-college position working in Jill Biden’s office located in the East Wing of the White House.