Vice President Biden has hired a longtime lobbyist to work at the White House.
Steve Ricchetti, who starts work for Biden today, founded a lobbying firm with clients including AT&T, drug-maker Eli Lilly, and the American Hospital Association. Last month, his firm disclosed a new contract with defense giant United Technologies.
Ricchetti officially deregistered from lobbying with Congress at the end of 2008, just as Obama was assuming office and issuing a tough new ethics policy meant to curb the revolving door between his administration and K street.
Because Ricchetti hasn’t been a registered lobbyist in over two years, he won’t need a waiver from that policy. Since 2008, he’s been the president of Ricchetti, Inc., the lobbying firm he founded in 2001. His brother, Jeffrey Ricchetti, is registered to do the actual lobbying.
The vice president’s office said in a statement that Ricchetti “did not act as a lobbyist with the federal government on behalf of any client” since 2008.
“Steve advised clients on public policy, communications strategy and grass-roots efforts,” the statement said.
He will still need to recuse himself if his work presents a conflict of interest under ethics rules.
Ricchetti knows the White House well. He was a deputy chief of staff to former president Bill Clinton and a legislative liaison to the Senate before that.
The Republican National Committee jumped on the news today by pointing to statements that Obama’s 2008 campaign made attacking Hillary Clinton, who counted Ricchetti as one of the “HillRaisers” bringing in money for her primary campaign against Obama.
The RNC quoted an Obama press release saying, “We know that Clinton has requested at least two earmarks linked to top fundraisers and donors – GM lobbyist Steve Ricchetti and billionaire Alan Gerry.”