Lobbyist brother of top White House adviser has lucrative year representing Big Pharma: Reports

Among the flurry of executive orders signed by Joe Biden in his early days as president was one purportedly meant to tamp down on lobbying with a strict ethics pledge for political appointees.

Now, questions are being raised about the lobbyist brother of one of Biden’s senior advisers, who has reportedly had a lucrative year — one that he just capped off by signing on a new foreign client that manufactures a coronavirus vaccine and is seeking approval in the United States, Breitbart reports.

According to Breitbart, the lobbyist is Jeff Richetti, whose brother Steve serves as White House counselor, and the new client is Taiwan-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics.

The Taiwanese biopharmaceutical company is currently lobbying the federal government — now through Jeff Richetti’s firm — to obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its vaccine, which has so far only been approved in Taiwan.

Repping Big Pharma

CNBC was the first to report on the disclosure of Richetti’s registration as a lobbyist for the company, which he says will focus on “issues related to COVID-19 vaccines accepted for foreign travelers to the United States.”

According to CNBC, Richetti also recently took on Amazon as a new client — a development that came right around the same time that his brother, in the White House, was essentially lobbying Congress to get Biden’s infrastructure bill passed, a $1 trillion measure that will undoubtedly result in greater profits for online retailers.

CNBC also noted that Richetti previously lobbied the Biden White House on behalf of other pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Horizon Therapeutics, and Vaxart Inc., but apparently no longer plans to do so.

White House weighs in

CNBC had reported back in April on the eyebrow-raising situation. “I do not lobby my brother and I have not even mentioned to him the names of clients that I currently represent,” the lobbyist insisted at the time.

“For the better part of the last 30 years I have lobbied Members of Congress and their staff, and various individuals who have served in the successive Administrations. It is what I do for a living,” he added in a statement.

When asked about ties between the lobbyist and adviser brothers, an unnamed White House official told CNBC in the spring:

Steve Ricchetti does not and has not had conversations with Jeff Ricchetti relating to his business representations on any matter.

Revenue takes off amid pandemic

It all comes as lobbying firms with connections to the Biden White House are reported to be having a banner year in terms of revenue. ABC News reported in November that companies in the lobbying industry saw revenues two to four times higher in recent months than in prior years.

That includes Richetti Inc., which had reported more than $2.4 million in revenue between January and September of this year, a substantial increase over the $635,000 it had earned over that same time span in 2020, as ABC noted.

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