Person

Steve Richetti

Occupation:

Counselor to President Joe Biden

Party:

Democratic

Steve Ricchetti is a Democratic operative, lobbyist, and Counselor to President.

Career

Early Career

In 1982, Steve Ricchetti started his career as a special legal assistant at Allied Corp, a Canadian pharmaceutical company. In 1987, Riccetti moved to Blue Cross Blue Shield, where he worked as executive director of congressional communications. In both roles, Ricchetti worked as a lobbyist to Congress. [1]

Clinton Administration

In 1990, Ricchetti moved into politics as the executive director of the DSCC, working to coordinate U.S. Senate campaigns for the Democratic Party. In 1993, Richetti joined the executive branch as Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs under then-President Bill Clinton. In the role, he lobbied the U.S. Senate on behalf of the Clinton administration[2] and was part of President Clinton’s debate preparation team. [3]

In 1998, Ricchetti left government to create the lobbying firm Ricchetti and Associates along with his brother, Jeff Ricchetti, and former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staffer Jay Heimbach. The firm only operated for one year, in which 12 clients paid $1.4 million for lobbying services. The clients included the Ricchettis’ former employers Allied Corp and Blue Cross Blue Shield, which paid $373,000 together. [4]

At the end of 1998, Ricchetti and Associates was purchased by Podesta and Associates, the lobbying firm operated by former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta. [5] After the buyout, Ricchetti briefly joined the lobbying firm Public Strategies as a vice president. [6]

In 1999, Ricchetti succeeded Podesta as Deputy Chief of Staff in the Clinton administration. [7] Ricchetti combatted efforts to remove President Clinton from office by the U.S. Senate. He was known to be a close friend of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, with some staffers nicknaming him “Rodham Ricchetti.” [8] In 2000, Ricchetti played a key role in drafting diplomatic plans that led to the normalization of trade relations with China. [9]

Lobbying Career

In 2001, Ricchetti again left the White House with the end of the Clinton administration. He then founded another lobbying firm, Ricchetti Inc, along with Jeff Ricchetti, Jay Heimbach, and former Clinton administration staffer Lisa Kountoupes. Steve Ricchetti ran the firm until 2012, though it continues to operate as of May 2021. [10] Ricchetti allegedly told friends that the lobbying firm was just an “exile project” while Republicans controlled the executive branch, and that he was eager to return to politics. [11]

Ricchetti Inc earned between $2 and 3 million in revenue from 2001 to 2009, before declining to between $1.5 and 2 million from 2010 to 2012. The firm’s clients included AT&T, General Motors, Fannie Mae, Pfizer, and the University of Chicago. [12]

In 2008, Steve Ricchetti ended his registration as a lobbyist but continued to run the firm. [13] Some have speculated that Ricchetti ceased registering as a lobbyist in order to bypass an Obama administration rule which required staff members to cease lobbying for two years before starting work in the administration. [14] In the same year, Richetti worked on former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) presidential campaign. [15] Allegedly, Ricchetti’s behavior on the campaign permanently damaged his relationship with the Clinton family when he brought up how Clinton should respond to media inquiries about her husband’s well-known infidelities in a strategy meeting. [16]

In 2012, Ricchetti joined the board for the left-of-center Center for American Progress (CAP), a Washington D.C. think tank founded by John Podesta. [17]

Obama Administration

That year, Ricchetti joined the Obama administration and began working with then-Vice President Joe Biden as a counselor. According to Politico, the position was considered a demotion to Ricchetti who took a spot under the vice president rather than the president after alienating the Clintons with his campaign conduct and alienating President Obama by his association with the Clintons. [18]

The appointment drew controversy for violating President Obama’s campaign promise to not hire lobbyists. [19] Politico has speculated that President Obama’s opposition was also prompted by concerns from David Plouffe, the president’s 2008 campaign manager, who worried that Ricchetti would be excessively loyal to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had been President Obama’s primary opponent. [20] President Obama reportedly attempted to block the appointment, but Vice President Biden insisted on the “right” to make his own appointments. President Obama compromised and allowed the appointment but refused to allow Ricchetti into high-level strategy calls. [21]

In 2013, Ricchetti was promoted to Chief of Staff to the Vice President. [22] Ricchetti has been credited with amplifying Vice President Biden’s role in the Obama administration. Ricchetti remained in the role throughout President Obama’s second term. [23]

Biden Presidential Campaigns

In 2015, Steve Ricchetti led preparations for then-Vice President Joe Biden’s potential presidential campaign. Ricchetti and staffer Mike Donilon reportedly urged Vice President Biden to run despite the unexpected death of his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden (D), and competition from former Secretary of State Clinton. Ricchetti’s urging may have further eroded his relationship with the Clinton family. [24][25]

After Vice President Biden refused to run, Ricchetti and Donilon organized a network of nonprofits to prepare for a future presidential run. Ricchetti briefly ran the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy, a think tank based out of the University of Pennsylvania. [26] Ricchetti also became Biden’s personal business manager and helped him the Biden family set up a major book deal and tour, which earned over $15 million for the Bidens. [27]

In 2019, Ricchetti was appointed finance chair and campaign chairman of the Biden 2020 presidential campaign. [28] [29] The New York Times described Ricchetti’s work as critical to the survival of President Biden’s Democratic primary campaign in the beginning of 2020 when the early frontrunner struggled to keep up with U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). [30]

After the election Ricchetti was named Counselor to the President in the Biden White House. [31]

References

  1. “Ricchetti, Steve.” Open Secrets. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=19155. ^
  2. “Ricchetti, Steve.” Open Secrets. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=19155. ^
  3. Dovere, Edward-Isaac. “The man plotting Biden 2016.” Politico. September 2, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/joe-biden-steve-ricchetti-2016-campaign-213245. ^
  4. “Lobbying Firm Profile: Ricchetti & Assoc.” Open Secrets. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/firms/summary?id=F224612&cycle=1998. ^
  5. Barron, James. “Public Lives.” January 12, 1999. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/1999/01/12/nyregion/public-lives.html. ^
  6. “Ricchetti, Steve.” Open Secrets. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=19155. ^
  7. “Ricchetti, Steve.” Open Secrets. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=19155. ^
  8. Dayen, David. “Steve Ricchetti, Top Biden Campaign Aide, Was a Health-Care Lobbyist.” Prospect. July 18, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://prospect.org/power/steve-ricchetti-top-biden-campaign-aide-health-care-lobbyist/ ^
  9. Clinton, William J. “Remarks on Permanent Normal Trade Relations With China and an Exchange With Reporters.” January 10, 2000. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-permanent-normal-trade-relations-with-china-and-exchange-with-reporters. ^
  10. “Lobbying Firm Profile: Ricchetti Inc.” Open Secrets. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/firms/summary?cycle=2001&id=D000037088. ^
  11. Dovere, Edward-Isaac. “The man plotting Biden 2016.” Politico. September 2, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/joe-biden-steve-ricchetti-2016-campaign-213245. ^
  12. “Lobbying Firm Profile: Ricchetti Inc.” Open Secrets. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/firms/summary?cycle=2001&id=D000037088. ^
  13. Farnam, T.W. “Biden hires former lobbyist.” Washington Post. March 5, 2012. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/44/post/biden-hires-president-of-a-lobbying-firm/2012/03/05/gIQAFCMGtR_blog.html. ^
  14. Dayden, David. “Steve Racchetti, Top Biden Campaign Aide, Was a Health-Care Lobbyist.” Prospect. July 18, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://prospect.org/power/steve-ricchetti-top-biden-campaign-aide-health-care-lobbyist/. ^
  15. Dayen, David. “Steve Ricchetti, Top Biden Campaign Aide, Was a Health-Care Lobbyist.” Prospect. July 18, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://prospect.org/power/steve-ricchetti-top-biden-campaign-aide-health-care-lobbyist/ ^
  16. Dovere, Edward-Isaac. “The man plotting Biden 2016.” Politico. September 2, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/joe-biden-steve-ricchetti-2016-campaign-213245. ^
  17. Dayen, David. “Steve Ricchetti, Top Biden Campaign Aide, Was a Health-Care Lobbyist.” Prospect. July 18, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://prospect.org/power/steve-ricchetti-top-biden-campaign-aide-health-care-lobbyist/ ^
  18. Dovere, Edward-Isaac. “The man plotting Biden 2016.” Politico. September 2, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/joe-biden-steve-ricchetti-2016-campaign-213245. ^
  19. Farnam, T.W. “Biden hires former lobbyist.” Washington Post. March 5, 2012. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/44/post/biden-hires-president-of-a-lobbying-firm/2012/03/05/gIQAFCMGtR_blog.html. ^
  20. Dovere, Edward-Isaac. “The man plotting Biden 2016.” Politico. September 2, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/joe-biden-steve-ricchetti-2016-campaign-213245. ^
  21. McCain Nelson, Colleen; Lee, Carol E. “Joe Biden Supporters Ramp Up a Campaign-in-Waiting.” Wall Street Journal. September 13, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-biden-supporters-ramp-up-a-campaign-in-waiting-1442186886. ^
  22. Thrush, Glenn. “Steve Ricchetti Is Tapped for the West Wing’s Wise-Man Role. New York Times. November 17, 2020. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/steve-ricchetti-biden.html. ^
  23. Clinton, William J. “Remarks on Permanent Normal Trade Relations With China and an Exchange With Reporters.” January 10, 2000. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-permanent-normal-trade-relations-with-china-and-exchange-with-reporters. ^
  24. McCain Nelson, Colleen; Lee, Carol E. “Joe Biden Supporters Ramp Up a Campaign-in-Waiting.” Wall Street Journal. September 13, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-biden-supporters-ramp-up-a-campaign-in-waiting-1442186886. ^
  25. Dovere, Edward-Isaac. “The man plotting Biden 2016.” Politico. September 2, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/joe-biden-steve-ricchetti-2016-campaign-213245. ^
  26. Dayen, David. “Steve Ricchetti, Top Biden Campaign Aide, Was a Health-Care Lobbyist.” Prospect. July 18, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://prospect.org/power/steve-ricchetti-top-biden-campaign-aide-health-care-lobbyist/ ^
  27. McCain Nelson, Colleen; Lee, Carol E. “Joe Biden Supporters Ramp Up a Campaign-in-Waiting.” Wall Street Journal. September 13, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-biden-supporters-ramp-up-a-campaign-in-waiting-1442186886. ^
  28. “Ricchetti, Steve.” Open Secrets. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=19155. ^
  29. Dayen, David. “Steve Ricchetti, Top Biden Campaign Aide, Was a Health-Care Lobbyist.” Prospect. July 18, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://prospect.org/power/steve-ricchetti-top-biden-campaign-aide-health-care-lobbyist/ ^
  30. Clinton, William J. “Remarks on Permanent Normal Trade Relations With China and an Exchange With Reporters.” January 10, 2000. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-permanent-normal-trade-relations-with-china-and-exchange-with-reporters. ^
  31. Thrush, Glenn. “Steve Ricchetti Is Tapped for the West Wing’s Wise-Man Role. New York Times. November 17, 2020. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/steve-ricchetti-biden.html. ^

Connected Organizations

  1. Biden Administration (Government Agency)
    Counselor to the President
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