A small cadre of scandal-plagued senior White House aides will secretly steer President Joe Biden’s reelection bid from afar, the New York Times reported Thursday.
"The tiny, tight-lipped circle of aides guiding Biden in 2024" consists of six longtime Biden advisers. The group was involved in rolling out the president’s reelection bid on Tuesday and will have the final say on any major campaign decisions moving forward, the Times reported.
But these denizens of Bidenworld bring more than just political expertise to the table. Here’s a look at some of the financial conflicts, ethical missteps, and messy pasts swirling around the president’s inner circle.
White House senior adviser Anita Dunn is somewhat of a political fixer for Biden, described by NBC News as a "confidant whom [Biden] often turns to when his fortunes look bleak."
Dunn has no problem getting her hands dirty for her friends. In 2017, after serving as former president Barack Obama’s communications director, she helped disgraced Democratic megadonor and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein strategize against pending news reports covering allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein. Dunn did not charge Weinstein for her services.
Dunn was considered a "special government employee" during her first stint with the Biden administration from January through August 2021, a classification that allowed her to evade disclosing her finances to the public. When Dunn rejoined the Biden administration in March 2022, however, she was forced to disclose her vast wealth to the public and divest between $16.8 million and $48.2 million of her fortune in order to avoid ethical conflicts of interest.
Later in 2022, when classified records from Biden’s time as vice president were discovered at his private offices, Dunn was instrumental in convincing the White House to conceal the scandal from the public. Her husband, Bob Bauer, just so happens to be leading Biden’s legal strategy in the scandal.
Presidential counselor Steve Ricchetti often finds himself in the crosshairs of independent ethics watchdogs for his cozy relationship with his brother, lobbyist Jeff Ricchetti.
Jeff Ricchetti has had remarkable success securing meetings between Biden and his lobbying clients, which have paid his firm over $6 million since Biden took office. One of his clients, General Motors, has met with Biden several times since April 2021. The president has also given "free publicity" to the vehicle manufacturer’s $108,700 electric Hummer on multiple occasions.
Jeff Ricchetti insists that he never mentions that his brother is Biden’s counselor as he works to secure meetings between his clients and the president. But ethics watchdogs say they have their doubts.
"Business just keeps getting better for the brother of Biden’s top aide," Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of Americans for Public Trust, told the Washington Free Beacon. "This pattern of unfettered access is the exact opposite of Biden’s pledge to 'restore ethics in government.’"
Former Biden administration COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients was fresh off overseeing the deaths of 573,648 Americans to the virus when he was promoted to the president’s chief of staff in January.
Zients got his start working as a consultant at Bain Consulting, a position that helped him amass an estimated net worth of nearly $150 million by the time he was 35. Afterward, Zients went on to launch Portfolio Logic, which invested his own fortune into health care companies that were ultimately forced to pay tens of millions of dollars in connection to allegations of Medicare and Medicaid billing fraud. Portfolio Logic itself agreed to pay nearly $7 million as part of a Justice Department settlement involving allegations of Medicare billing fraud from its subsidiary, Pediatric Services of America Healthcare.
Zients was later tasked with fixing the disastrous Obamacare website rollout in 2013, a task he dutifully fulfilled while holding his stake in Pediatric Services of America Healthcare. The Obama White House determined at the time the investment was not a conflict of interest.
Biden senior adviser Mike Donilon has been in the president’s inner circle since the early 1980s. Before serving as chief strategist of Biden’s 2020 campaign, Donilon was the managing director of the Biden Institute, a University of Delaware project that found itself flush with foreign cash after launching in 2017.
The Biden Institute and the University of Delaware have declined to disclose the project’s funding. Education Department data, however, indicate the institute has received $6,704,250 from China, $23,610,996 from Saudi Arabia, $2,513,646 from Oman, and $1,673,847 from Turkey, the Free Beacon reported.
The Biden Institute also maintains 1,875 boxes of records that the president donated to the University of Delaware in 2012. The records remain closed to the public, but lawmakers such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) have called on the FBI and Department of Justice to search the cache to determine if it holds any classified materials.
Jen O’Malley Dillon
White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon served as Biden’s campaign manager in 2020. Before that, in 2013, Dillon cofounded Precision Strategies, a consulting firm that raked in millions from liberal dark money groups. In 2019 alone, Dillon’s firm received $1.2 million from the George Soros-funded Sixteen Thirty Fund.
Precision Strategies also consulted for the American Investment Council, a lobbying group for private equity firms, the Free Beacon reported.
White House deputy chief of staff Bruce Reid, a former blogger for the liberal news outlet Slate, has been a fixture in Democratic politics since the 1990s, having served as director of the Domestic Policy Council during the Clinton administration and chief of staff to Biden during his vice presidency.
Reed was in the running to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget, but his consideration for the position was withdrawn amid blowback over Reed’s prior advocacy for cutting Medicare and Social Security, raising the Social Security retirement age, and lowering the federal deficit.
Published under: 2024 Election , Anita Dunn , Jeff Ricchetti , Joe Biden , Steve Ricchetti