The Biden administration is loaning billions of dollars to General Motors to make electric car batteries after months of lobbying from a top Biden adviser's brother.
The Department of Energy announced it will lend $2.5 billion to the auto giant to manufacture lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, part of President Biden's goal to make the U.S. auto fleet 50 percent electric by the end of the decade. The loan is the latest Biden-era windfall for General Motors, which over the past year has paid Beltway lobbyist Jeff Ricchetti nearly $350,000 to lobby the government on federal subsidies for electric vehicles and charging stations. Ricchetti is the younger brother and former lobbying partner of White House adviser Steve Ricchetti. The longtime Biden aide, who lobbied for GM until 2008, has been directly involved in discussions with Congress about funding for electric vehicles and charging stations.
The Ricchetti relationship has long raised ethics concerns in Washington. White House ethics lawyers forced Steve Ricchetti to recuse himself from matters involving four of his brother's clients, though not GM. The Washington Post reported last year that Ricchetti's work on issues related to GM undercut Biden's pledge to "restore ethics in government."
The loan to GM is the first the Department of Energy has made since 2010 under its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. The controversial initiative has been marred by a series of ill-advised loans, including $530 million to Fisker Automotive, a now-defunct hybrid car maker, and $50 million to a van company linked to a prominent Obama donor.
GM has enjoyed extensive access to the Biden administration. Biden in November visited a GM plant and in January praised the company for announcing plans to build a $7 billion battery manufacturing plant, the same facility now slated to receive the Department of Energy loan. The head of GM's public policy unit and its general counsel in March met at the White House with Steve Ricchetti, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Jeff Ricchetti's firm and the White House did not respond to requests for comment. The brothers have previously denied that they discuss matters involving Jeff's lobbying clients.