Washington, DC – President Joe Biden’s White House ethics are facing scrutiny after a fourth family member of a top aide, who just graduated from college and has supported defunding the police, was hired to work for the administration.
Walt Shaub, former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, told FOX News the situation was “positively ridiculous.”
Steve Ricchetti, aide to President Biden and White House counselor, has three children working in the administration now.
His elder son, Daniel Ricchetti, is a senior adviser in the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, FOX News reported.
His daughter, Shannon Ricchetti, is deputy associate director at the Office of the White House Social Secretary.
Most recently, J.J. Ricchetti, a recent University of Pennsylvania graduate and Steve Ricchetti’s younger son, was hired as a special assistant in the Office of Legislative Affairs of the Treasury Department, FOX News reported.
J.J.’s hiring prompted criticism because it was such a plum position for a candidate with far less experience than those who preceded him in the job.
The former special assistant, Clement Abonyi Jr., whom J.J. replaced worked for three years for U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-California), including in a senior position, before getting the same job at Treasury, FOX News reported.
Another special assistant who was hired in the spring had at least eight internships and two years’ experience as a legislative correspondent for former Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).
In contrast, J.J. graduated from college a year ago and in the time since has been posting Black Lives Matter links supporting the Defund the Police movement and donating to protesters’ bail funds, FOX News reported.
All of the links have been removed since they were first reported on.
He also volunteered on President Biden’s campaign, FOX News reported.
“Haven’t we had enough of nepotists in presidential administrations?” Shaub, who worked under both former President Barack Obama and Donald Trump, asked.
The Ricchetti dynasty doesn’t stop with Steve’s children, though, Politico reported.
His brother – and former lobbying partner – has benefitted from Steve’s position, too.
“It may be legal if Ricchetti wasn’t directly involved in the hiring, but this is no way to send a message that ethics matters to the administration,” the former White House ethics director said. “It feels like the taxpayers are funding a career-building charity for the Ricchetti family. Add to that the fact that you’ve got Ricchetti’s brother lobbying the administration, and this feels like a very special episode of the Partridge Family where they all pile in the van and go visit Washington — only they should call this show the Patronage Family.”
Steve’s brother, Jeff Ricchetti, lobbied the Biden administration on behalf of Canadian energy company TC Energy and three pharmaceutical companies through his firm, Ricchetti Inc. earlier this year, Politico reported.
So far, Steve has had to recuse himself from dealing with matters related to TC Energy, GlaxoSmithKline, Vaxart, and Horizon Therapeutics, because his brother lobbied the White House for all for them, The Washington Post reported.
Jeff was hired by TC Energy, the company that managed the cancelled Keystone XL pipeline, just five days before President Biden was inaugurated and was paid $90,000 through the end of March.
Questions were raised when Jeff recently lobbied the administration on behalf of General Motors in connection with the pending infrastructure bill, but ethics advisors said Steve didn’t have to recuse himself then because his brother was lobbying Cabinet officials rather than the President.
Jeff told The Washington Post in an email on June 10 that he was shifting the lobbying approach of the firm that he built with his brother Steve.
“I have not lobbied my brother and I no longer lobby the White House Office,” Jeff wrote.
Richard Painter, the top White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush between 2005 and 2007, has urged White House attorneys to remove Steve completely from anything that involves Jeff, The Washington Post reported.
“Steve Ricchetti ought to completely recuse himself from any part of the legislation that his brother’s firm is lobbying on, and then have the White House not take calls from his brother,” Painter said.
There may also be a conflict going forward with the Treasury Department, which Jeff recently lobbied on estate-tax issues and expanding labor protections for Finseca, life insurance and annuities industry trade group, The Washington Post reported.
J.J.’s position at Treasury is low level but puts him dealing with legislative affairs.
Critics have said the Ricchetti dynasty doesn’t show the Biden administration keeping up with its pledge to improve White House ethics over the prior administration, FOX News reported.