Life is good for companies that hire lobbyist Jeff Ricchetti, the brother of President Joe Biden’s longtime political aide Steve Ricchetti. Jeff Ricchetti runs a top lobbying firm whose clients secured meetings with Biden and other members of the president’s cabinet.
Both General Motors and Amazon hired Ricchetti Incorporated after Biden defeated Donald Trump. Within months of hiring the lobbying firm, both companies scored high-profile meetings with the president and his cabinet that focused on their shared concerns about the shortage of semiconductors.
The semiconductor meetings underscore how Ricchetti has established himself as a go-to for corporations looking for access in the Biden administration. Ricchetti’s lobbying income has soared in the early months of the Biden administration—according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Ricchetti's firm brought in $820,000 in the first quarter of 2021, nearly five times more than what he earned during the same period in 2020.
Three months after GM hired Ricchetti to lobby the House, Senate, and Department of Commerce on topics including "issues related to the availability of semiconductors and critical supply chains for manufacture of automobiles," the company received an invite to a May 20 summit with Gina Raimondo, the secretary of commerce. According to contemporary coverage, the meeting focused on "companies impacted by the global semiconductor shortage." Also in the Raimondo meeting was another Ricchetti client, Amazon, which hired Ricchetti just 10 days after Biden was elected, according to lobbyist disclosure forms.
Amazon and GM paid Ricchetti’s firm a combined $130,000 in the first quarter of 2021.
Biden hosted GM's CEO for an April 12 summit on how to "[address] the global semiconductor shortage." After the high-visibility meeting, GM’s CEO cosigned a statement thanking the Biden administration for its ongoing cooperation in resolving the shortage.
GM and Amazon are among those most affected by a global shortage of semiconductors, which are needed for everything from calibrating fuel injection to web services. GM told the White House the shortage will cut off $2 billion worth of annual profits, according to CNBC. Following multiple meetings with top Biden officials, GM announced this month that its chip shortage problem was entering the rear-view mirror, and it "expected to increase shipments" of vehicles in the coming weeks.
Neither GM nor Amazon responded to requests for comment on hiring Ricchetti Incorporated after Biden's election.
Ricchetti insists he has no knowledge of any of his brother’s day-to-day business at the White House.
"I do not lobby my brother and I have not even mentioned to him the names of clients that I currently represent," Ricchetti said in April. "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."
Ricchetti's reassurances aren't sufficient for everyone. Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of the watchdog organization Americans for Public Trust, called the Ricchettis' influence "alarming" in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.
"Senior aides to President Biden continue to elevate their family members and deepen their pocketbooks," Sutherland said. "President Biden promised to keep his family off his staff but opened the gates for senior officials to do so. It is alarming how the Biden Administration enriches those who work with him personally day to day."
The lobbyist's connections extend beyond just his brother. Three of Steve Ricchetti’s children work in the Biden administration, prompting Politico to label Biden's White House "the Ricchetti administration."
Recent reports of the administration’s nepotism sparked Walter Shaub, former president Barack Obama’s ethics chief, to claim that Biden is sending a "f— you" to ethics experts.
Neither the White House nor the Commerce Department responded to requests for comment on Ricchetti's role in setting up semiconductor meetings.