General Motors won President Biden’s visit to an electric vehicle plant in Detroit on Wednesday after paying the brother of one of its senior advisers $ 160,000 in lobbying fees.
Jeff Ricchetti has been paid the price for lobbying Congress and the White House to promote policies that promote electric vehicles, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
His brother Steve Ricchetti is part of Biden’s inner circle of advisers.
Biden will tour the GM plant after touring a Ford electric vehicle plant in Dearborn, Michigan in May and walking down the aisle of the White House in August in one of Chrysler’s electric Jeep Wranglers.
The Ricchetti family’s lobbying link has turned heads in Washington among ethicists – especially since Ricchetti serves as an important liaison between the West Wing and Capitol Hill.
Jeff Ricchetti’s lobbying firm Ricchetti Inc. raised $ 2.4 million in lobbying fees this year, up from just $ 1.2 million in 2020 before Biden took office, according to Opensecrets.org .
The company’s other customers include Amazon, semiconductor maker Applied Materials Inc., and pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Evofem Biosciences, Neurocrine Biosciences, and Eagle Pharmaceuticals.
Jeff Ricchetti and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that Biden just signed contains $ 7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and $ 5 billion to buy electric and low-emission buses.
And the nearly $ 2 trillion social spending plan proposed by Biden contains $ 555 billion for environmental initiatives, including $ 12,500 in rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles.
Disclosure forms say Jeff Ricchetti’s company was hired by GM to lobby “issues around tax incentives for electric vehicles and charging stations,” “semiconductor availability” and “politics. climate that affects the automotive industry, ”reports the Free Beacon.
“Steve Ricchetti should completely withdraw from any part of the legislation that his brother’s cabinet is pushing for, then ask the White House not to take his brother’s calls,” Richard Painter, a former Democratic Senate candidate who was President George W. Bush’s chief ethics counselor, told the Free Beacon.
For comparison, Ricchetti’s role as adviser to the president has been filled in the Trump administration by senior aides including Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon. His influential post drew moans from left-wing Democrats who accused him of being too corporate-friendly after a career that included lobbying work himself.
Progressive group Justice Democrats has criticized his role as adviser to Biden, saying last year: “If Joe Biden continues to make pro-business appointments to his White House, he will quickly risk shattering the hard-earned goodwill his team has had. built with the progressives to defeat Donald Trump. “
Group Executive Director Alexandra Rojas wrote that Ricchetti “is a former pharmaceutical lobbyist and has represented groups fiercely opposed to Medicare For All and the public manufacture of prescription drugs.”
And other members of Ricchetti’s family have landed jobs in the Biden administration, sparking concerns about nepotism in addition to concerns about lobbying conflicts of interest.
Steve Ricchetti’s son and 2020 college graduate JJ Ricchetti has landed a job with the Treasury Department. Ricchetti’s daughter, Shannon Ricchetti, also in her twenties, works in the office of the White House social secretary.
Former US government ethics chief criticized the Biden administration for a wave of potentially ‘illegal’ nepotism this year, saying it ‘sucks’ and is ‘real’ f — vous’ ”for ethical governance.
Walter Shaub, director of the US Office of Government Ethics from 2013 to 2017, said, “I’m sorry, I know some people don’t like to hear criticism of him. But it sucks royally. I am disgusted. Many of us have worked hard to restore government ethics and have believed in the promises. That’s a real ‘f — you’ to us — and government ethics.
Other key Biden collaborators with relatives in government include White House Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed, whose daughter Julia Reed was hired as Biden’s planner, and White House national security adviser. Jake Sullivan, whose wife, Meggie Goodlander, is counsel to Attorney General Merrick. Garland. Her brother, Tom Sullivan, works at the State Department. Sullivan’s sister-in-law, Rose Sullivan, works at the Department of Health and Human Services.