Lobbyists with Biden ties enjoy surge in revenue, clients
Lobbyists with ties to President Biden are flourishing as corporate clients seek to influence Biden’s ambitious agenda.
Business is booming on K Street, with many of the leading lobbying firms enjoying record revenues in recent months. Lobbyists sporting connections to the White House are in high demand as Biden negotiates trillion-dollar spending plans and his administration attempts to more aggressively regulate corporate giants.
Christopher Putala, a former senior aide to Biden during his tenure as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, raked in $930,000 in lobbying revenue from April through June, according to new lobbying filings. That’s three times more than he earned during the same period last year.
Putala’s one-man lobbying firm has seen an influx of new clients since Biden took office, including TC Energy, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline, and several renewable energy firms seeking to influence infrastructure legislation.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America hired Putala in June and paid him $20,000 for one month of work. Putala reported lobbying the White House on issues related to “prescription drug prices and importation of drugs” on behalf of drugmakers’ top trade group.
Biden’s executive order on anti-competitive practices, issued earlier this month, directs federal agencies to work with states on importing lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada. Congressional Democrats are considering allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices to raise revenue for their party-line infrastructure plan. The pharmaceutical industry fiercely opposes both measures.
Jeff Ricchetti, the brother of top Biden adviser Steve Ricchetti, brought in $850,000 in lobbying revenue in the second quarter of 2021 — up from just $200,000 during the same period last year.
High-profile clients such as Amazon, General Motors and TC Energy signed contracts with Ricchetti’s lobbying firm shortly after Biden’s win. Amazon paid Ricchetti $90,000 this quarter to lobby Congress on “issues related to the regulation of online marketplaces” and other measures, according to lobbying filings.
The tech giant is a target of Biden’s recent executive order, which tasks the Federal Trade Commission with banning tech platforms’ “unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces” in an effort to help small businesses compete.
Amazon is pushing congressional Democrats to abandon antitrust legislation that would make it easier for regulators to break up the company. Overall, Amazon spent nearly $4.9 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2021, up slightly from the same period last year.
While Ricchetti reported lobbying the executive office of the president in the first quarter of the year, he did not do so in the second quarter. The Biden administration has said that Steve Ricchetti does not communicate with his brother about his lobbying clients.
“I do not lobby my brother, nor have I lobbied the White House this quarter,” Jeff Ricchetti told news outlets this week in response to questions about his lobbying efforts.
Jeff and Steve Ricchetti worked together at the same lobbying firm until 2012, when Steve Ricchetti joined the Obama administration as Biden’s top adviser. He’s playing a key role in the Biden administration’s infrastructure negotiations with Senate Republicans.
Lobbying clients have also flocked to Sudafi Henry, former director of legislative affairs for Biden during the Obama administration, who is now a lobbyist at TheGROUP.
Henry signed contracts with tax giant Intuit, energy firm Southern Company and chipmaker Micron Technology in recent months. Shortly after Biden’s election, Lyft, Abbott Laboratories and the American Health Care Association hired Henry. He also lobbies for Facebook.
Overall, Henry’s firm brought in more than $1.7 million in the second quarter of 2021, around double the amount it earned during the same period last year.
The firms did not immediately respond to a request for comment.