At a Glance
- Career History: Deputy general counsel for Aon Corp. (2004 to 2009); General counsel for the Chicago Transit Authority (2001 to 2004); Schiff, Hardin & Waite (1998 to 2001)
- Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
- Alma Mater: Harvard University, B.A., 1982; Stanford University, J.D., 1987
- Spouse: Cindy Moelis
- DC Office: 1200 New Jersey Ave SE; Phone: 202-366-4000
- Web site
Path to Power
Rivkin grew up in Chicago, Ill. His father, William R. Rivkin, served in World War II as a U.S. Army colonel. In 1962, William Rivkin became the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, where he would serve until 1965, before becoming ambassador to Senegal and Gambia. While serving the U.S. in the African nations, William Rivkin died suddenly of a heart attack in 1967. Robert's mother, a former trustee to Columbia College in Chicago for 20 years, began funding an American Foreign Service Association award that honors those who display "constructive dissent" among Foreign Service officers.
The younger Rivkin attended Harvard University for undergraduate, earning a B.A. in 1982. A few years later, Rivkin went to Stanford University law school, where he gained degree in 1987. Rivkin then became a law clerk to Judge Joel M. Flaum of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, where he stayed until 1988.
In February 2009, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was the technical name for the $787 billion economic stimulus bill. This legislation allocated over $48 billion to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for various projects, including more than $27 billion for highway improvements and $8 billion for the creation of more high-speed rails across the U.S.
Rivkin will advise the DOT on legal issues that arise when distributing stimulus funds for various projects across the nation. He'll have to work with DOT agencies like the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration to assure the correct parties receive the money allotted to them, and that the funds are being used correctly. Rivkin also advises the transportation secretary as Lahood decides how best to use the federal funds.
Rivkin hails from the same Chicago circle as many of Obama's advisers and confidantes. In 2001, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett announced Rivkin as the Chicago Transport Authority's general counsel. Rivkin's wife, Cindy Moelis, worked as the executive director for the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation. Penny Pritzker, the Obama's campaign's 2008 finance chair, is co-founder of the foundation. Moelis also earned a position in the Obama administration as the director for the Presidential Commission on White House Fellows.
During Rivkin's confirmation hearing, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) took the time to introduce the nominee to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, even though Durbin doesn't serve on the committee.
Rivkin has donated over $16,000 since 1995, all of which has gone to Democratic candidates or the Aon Corp. political action committee. Over $10,000 of Rivkin's money has been given to support the political rise of Barack Obama. Rivkin first donated $500 to Obama in 1999, when the then-state senator was attempting his first run for national office in an Illinois congressional race. In 2008, Rivkin donated $2,300 to Obama's presidential campaign.