Brother of Biden adviser Ricchetti hired as lobbyist at Amazon
The brother of one of President-elect Joe Biden’s top advisers has recently secured a lobbying contract with the technology giant Amazon, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed with The Hill.
Jeff Ricchetti, the brother of Biden’s designated White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, registered to lobby for Amazon.com Services LLC on Nov. 13, according to a new lobbying disclosure report obtained by CNBC.
Amazon’s head of policy communications, Jodi Seth, confirmed to The Hill over the weekend that Jeff Ricchetti has been retained by the multinational technology company.
The report comes after ethics attorneys told CNBC last month that Steve Ricchetti may need to recuse himself from matters that could potentially affect his brother’s clients.
However, a source familiar with the brothers’ relationship told CNBC that the two plan to separate their professional and personal lives.
“Jeff has never and will never lobby his brother on behalf of any of his clients, and Steve has had no role in his brother’s business since he sold his stake in the firm in 2012,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the relationship is private, told the news outlet.
The Hill has reached out to the Biden transition team and Jeff Ricchetti for comment.
Biden in May said during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that Amazon “should start paying their taxes.”
“I don’t think any company, I don’t give a damn how big they are, the Lord almighty, should absolutely be in a position where they pay no tax and make billions and billions and billions of dollars, No. 1,” Biden added at the time.
According to CNBC, the disclosure report indicates that Jeff Ricchetti plans on lobbying for Amazon specifically on issues related to the coronavirus pandemic and the CARES Act.
The report also noted that Ricchetti also registered to lobby for Evofem Biosciences on Nov. 15, through which he will focus on “federal health policies pertaining to coverage for contraceptive services.”
This comes as progressive lawmakers have pushed Biden to make an ethics pledge similar to the executive order from former President Barack Obama that put restrictions on former lobbyists working in the White House.
Steve Ricchetti formerly worked as a lobbyist, as has Tom Vilsack, Biden’s pick for Agriculture secretary.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) wrote to Biden this week seeking an ethics pledge that includes a total ban on lobbyists employed by corporations from serving in the administration and requiring more extensive public reporting of all lobbying activity directed toward the White House.
“We strongly support your commitment to demonstrate with your actions – not just your words – that public servants in the Biden-Harris administration will serve all Americans, not just themselves or narrow special interests,” the lawmakers wrote.
Biden has not outlined the specifics of any such pledge but has said it will improve on the Obama administration’s commitment and “address not only the improper influence of lobbyists, but also any improper or inappropriate influence from personal, financial, and other interests,” according to his website.
Updated Monday at 10:43 a.m.