President Joe Biden is certainly used to his kin trading off of his power and influence. Maybe that’s why it’s happening in his administration, too.
A White House advisor’s brother made a reported $220,000 lobbying the White House and Congress on behalf of Big Pharma, Fox News reported. Jeff Ricchetti, brother of longtime Biden advisor and White House counsel Steve Ricchetti, lobbied on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline, Horizon Therapeutics, and the legally troubled Vaxart Inc.,
It appears Jeff Ricchetti may have been riding the wave of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution blitz Biden was planning. He began working as a lobbyist in November 2020 and was active in the White House on the healthcare front for the time beginning with Biden’s inauguration and ending this March.
“I do not lobby my brother and I have not even mentioned to him the names of clients that I currently represent,” Jeff Ricchetti reportedly said of his relationship as lobbyist and brother. “For the better part of the last 30 years, I have lobbied members of Congress and their staff, and various individuals who have served in the successive administrations. It is what I do for a living.”
The White House similarly downplayed any interaction between the brothers during the course of official White House business. “Steve Ricchetti does not and has not had conversations with Jeff Ricchetti relating to his business representations on any matter,” it claimed.
The questionable closeness of a lobbyist and advisor so closely related came to light through Jeff Ricchetti’s work with Vaxart Inc. The company is under investigation for raising capital based on exaggerated claims about its affiliation with the Trump administration’s Operation: Warp Speed.
Although it’s unclear whether Joe Biden had knowledge of this relationship, nepotism is nothing new for him. The president’s son Hunter Biden traded on his father’s famous name to broker deals with foreign companies, the Wall Street Journal reported. Even Joe Biden’s brother James Biden got in on the act, cozying up to Chinese energy tycoon Ye Jianming to broker a deal.
Having Jeff Ricchetti as a lobbyist while his brother is in the White House is at the very least improper. Lobbyists trade on influence, and familial ties are the most reliable way to garner that. Even if what the brothers say is true — that there was no discussion of business between them — it’s never a good look.