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Biden Hires Big Name Lobbyist to be Chief of Staff

Vice President Biden is tapping a longtime lobbyist to be his chief of staff, making mockery of President Obama’s vow not to hire lobbyists to run his administration and to halt the “revolving door” between the White House and K Street.

BidenSteve Ricchetti, who has been one of Washington’s top Democratic lobbyists, will take over Biden’s office by the end of the year and thereby become one of the most senior White House officials.

Ricchetti, who since 2012 has served as counselor to the vice president, previously ran a lobbying shop – Ricchetti, Inc. – that has taken checks from plenty of corporations and groups with business before the administration, including health-related firms like drug making giant Eli Lilly and the American Hospital Association, according to the Washington Post.

Employing a typical Washington-style maneuver, Ricchetti “deregistered” as a lobbyist in late 2008, allowing him after a period not to technically be in violation of Obama’s no-lobbyist policy. It’s what Democratic lobbyists who wanted to work for Obama describe as “getting clean.”

Nevertheless, the dough continued to roll in for Ricchetti as he remained president of Ricchetti, Inc. and offered clients “advice” instead of directly importuning lawmakers on their behalf.

Ricchetti founded his lobbying firm immediately after leaving the Clinton White House, where he served as White House deputy chief of staff.

On bright note for the White House, Ricchetti gives the White House something it badly needs: lobbyists in positions of power. Part of the reason Obama has had such awful relations with Capitol Hill is no doubt his “no lobbyists” stance. Lobbyists have the best rolodexes of lawmakers, know how to work with members of Congress from both sides of aisle, and understand how to pass legislation.

Meanwhile, another former journalist is rising in the White House ranks. Biden communications director Shailagh J. Murray, a former Washington Post reporter, will be promoted to be his deputy chief of staff.

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