After paying the lobbyist brother of a top White House aide nearly $200,000 this year, auto giant General Motors has won an official visit from the president to showcase its new electric vehicle factory.
Jeff Ricchetti, the brother of Biden’s longtime political consigliere Steve Ricchetti, has disclosed $160,000 in payments from General Motors since President Joe Biden took office to lobby the White House and Congress on electric vehicle tax incentives, according to his firm’s lobbying disclosure forms. The investment appears to have paid off—on Wednesday, Biden will attend the grand opening of the company’s new electric vehicle factory as part of his push for Congress to "approve big tax incentives for zero-emission vehicles," precisely what Ricchetti was paid to push for.
Steve Ricchetti has been one of Biden’s closest advisers for nearly a decade and played a leading role in framing the administration’s infrastructure negotiations. Neither the White House, Jeff Ricchetti, nor General Motors responded to requests for comment on Jeff Ricchetti's role in arranging the visit.
Ricchetti has cashed in on his family ties to the administration. Ricchetti has already brought in $2.4 million in lobbying fees this year, double his 2020 haul of $1.2 million, according to numbers compiled by OpenSecrets. Ethics experts have criticized the Biden administration for allowing Steve Ricchetti to work on issues his brother is being paid to lobby the administration on.
"Steve Ricchetti ought to completely recuse himself from any part of the legislation that his brother’s firm is lobbying on, and then have the White House not take calls from his brother," said Richard Painter, a former White House ethics chief and Democratic candidate for office.
The lobbying disclosure forms show General Motors paid Ricchetti’s firm, Ricchetti Incorporated, to lobby on "issues related to tax incentives for electric vehicles and charging stations," "the availability of semiconductors," and "climate policy that affect the automobile industry."
General Motors has received outsized attention from the Biden administration since bringing on Ricchetti. After the company hired Ricchetti in February, the president hosted its CEO for an April summit on semiconductors. One month later, the company met with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about semiconductors. Ricchetti’s lobbying disclosures show he was paid to lobby the Department of Commerce for General Motors in the weeks prior to those meetings.
Three of Steve Ricchetti’s children work in the Biden administration, prompting Politico to label Biden's White House "the Ricchetti administration." Walter Shaub, White House ethics chief during the Obama administration, said the Biden administration's decision to permit nepotism amounts to a "f— you" to ethics experts.
General Motors said it was "excited to welcome" Biden for the opening of its Factory ZERO in Detroit. The longtime company factory has been repurposed to focus entirely on electric vehicles and will be used as the backdrop for Biden to promote tax incentives for electric vehicles included in his spending plan, according to Reuters.
Biden’s visit to General Motors is his latest trip to companies with close ties to his administration. Biden has also visited electric battery manufacturer Proterra, where his energy secretary Jennifer Granholm was on the board of directors.