Once-Struggling Lobbyist Brother of Top Biden Advisor Profits Immensely from WH Ties
Despite President Biden’s order to “restore ethics in government” by banning members of his administration from using public service for private gain, his top advisor’s lobbyist brother is profiting immensely from ties to the administration after struggling for years. Records obtained by Judicial Watch show Jeff Ricchetti’s small lobbying firm had just one client in the years leading up to Biden’s election but has made an unbelievable turnaround since his brother, Steve Ricchetti, became White House Counselor. In fact, Ricchetti Inc. has made a killing since Steve, a longtime Biden confidant and one of the president’s most trusted aides, became the commander-in-chief’s top advisor. A slew of recently filed lobbying disclosures obtained by Judicial Watch show that Ricchetti Inc. raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in just one quarter.
The exceptionally profitable quarter illustrates an upward trajectory for the once-struggling little firm that began thriving in the aftermath of Steve’s White House appointment after many sluggish years. In the first half of 2021, the firm made $1.7 million, more than quadruple the $370,000 it earned during the same period the previous year, according to filings obtained by a mainstream newspaper. Jeff’s client list grew quickly when Biden won the Democratic nomination, the article states, and his firm has since enlisted high-profile clients such as General Motors, Amazon and several drugmakers. The Ricchetti brothers—63-year-old Steve and 60-year-old Jeff—are considered one of the most important power brokers in government. “Not since the heyday of John and Tony Podesta, who served in the Obama White House and dominated K Street, respectively, have siblings wielded so much public and private power in Washington,” reads a national news story published last year. “While John Podesta held a series of high-ranking positions in the Clinton and Obama White Houses, Tony Podesta built one of the largest influence-peddling operations in the capital city,” the article continues. “He minted money, party-hopped around town in red leather shoes and amassed a museum-quality collection of artworks valued in the tens of millions of dollars.”
The latest lobbying disclosures obtained by Judicial Watch show that most, though not all, of Jeff’s new clients are in the vaccine or pharmaceutical industry. In all, the records show an estimated $860,000 in revenue for the second quarter. That includes $80,000 from Vaxart, which is currently conducting trials for an oral COVID-19 vaccine. An animal study for the vaccine was funded by the Gates Foundation. The first disclosure showing Jeff Ricchetti as a paid lobbyist for the company was in January 2021. Seven months later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine candidate as an investigational new drug, the records confirm. The White House Counselor’s little brother also earned $80,000 to lobby the administration on behalf of Pardes Biosciences, which is developing a therapeutic for COVID-19. Its Investigational New Drug (IND) application was approved by the FDA in February, the lobbying disclosures reveal.
Jeff’s firm also made $90,000 from TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), the company that was developing the Keystone XL pipeline, which was supposed to carry more than 800,000 barrels of oil daily from Canada to the U.S. President Donald Trump granted the permit for the project, but Biden revoked it in his first day as president. TC Energy is seeking $15 billion in damages from the Biden administration as compensation for rescinding its permit to build the 1,200-mile pipeline and it is not entirely clear what Jeff’s role is in the matter, though he is being generously compensated. Jeff’s lobbying firm was also paid $50,000 by a tech company, InterDigital, working on wireless communications and fifth-generation wireless (5G). Four months before the 2020 election Ricchetti Inc. registered InterDigital as a client and by September 2021 the company was awarded a $525,000 contract from the Department of Defense (DOD), its first federal deal in nearly a decade and a half.
The most recent quarterly records also show that a global semiconductor and display panel manufacturer called Applied Materials paid Jeff’s firm $60,000. The specific lobbying subject is described in the documents as “issues related to U.S.-China relations and potential impact on commercial relationships, including the manufacture of semiconductor equipment and energy storage and battery technologies.” Industry publications report that the company, which owns a subsidiary in China, is expected to benefit from the CHIPs Act that was recently approved by the Senate to provide $52 billion in subsidies to build computer chips in the U.S. Other Ricchetti Inc. earnings recorded in the latest quarterly disclosure include Amazon ($90,000), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America ($60,000) and General Motors ($60,000). Biden’s election and his brother’s White House position have clearly paid off for Jeff, despite the president’s ethics order. An analysis conducted by Judicial Watch found that in 2021 and 2022, he has signed a firm high of 15 new clients, compared to: Zero in 2014, two in 2015, two in 2016, zero in 2017, zero in 2018 and just one client in 2019. Registration dates for the new clients are all clustered around the election, according to the records obtained by Judicial Watch.