The Obama 2008 presidential campaign targeted the longtime lobbyist who was named as Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff.
Steve Ricchetti, who was president of the lobbying firm Ricchetti Inc. from 2001 to 2011, was a bundler for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2008. As reported by Politico in June 2007, the Obama campaign's talking points listed the “The Top Ten Reasons…Hillary Clinton Will Raise Double What She Raised Last Quarter.”
Vice President Joe Biden recalls his time as a New Castle County Commissioner and his encounters with Louis L. Redding after receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Delaware Barrister Association at their second annual Louis L. Redding Benefit and Awards Gala at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Del. on Friday evening, Nov. 8, 2013.
One of those reasons was, “Clinton solicits and accepts donations from federal lobbyists and PACs, Obama does not … Five Of Clinton’s $100,000 Bundlers Are Federally Registered Lobbyists. Five of the 'HillRaisers' listed on Clinton’s web site are federally registered lobbyists: Steve Ricchetti, John Merrigan, Yashar Hedayat, Matthew 'Mac' Bernstein, and Gary Mauro. HillRaisers are defined as anyone who raises more than $100,000 for Clinton’s campaign. [Clinton Bundling List; Senate Office of Public Records].”
Meanwhile, Republicans have been eager to call out the administration falling short of Obama's 2008 pledge that lobbyists “will not run my White House” and would not drown out other voices.
“Obama said his White House wouldn’t be a revolving door of lobbyists yet now a lobbyist is his vice president’s top advisor and gatekeeper,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told TheBlaze. “Sadly, it is not surprising that Obama’s rhetoric did not match his actions, just think about his ‘if you like your plan you can keep it’ line he repeated when he was selling Americans on Obamacare.”
The news release announcing that Richetti had been promoted from the counselor in the vice president's office to chief of staff was careful not to use the word lobbyist, but said he spent, “10 years at the helm of an independent public affairs firm.”
“Steve and I have been friends for years, and I was thrilled when he joined my staff as counselor,” Biden said in a statement. “He has a wealth of experience in policy and government, he knows Congress, and he has strong relationships with the West Wing staff. I’m lucky to have him.”
Richetti said, “It’s a privilege to serve the Vice President and I look forward to this new challenge.”
Ricchetti's clients included AT&T, drug-maker Eli Lilly, and the American Hospital Association.
Ricchetti became counselor to March 2012. He is replacing chief of staff Bruce Reed, who will step down in mid-December to become president of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said on several occasions that he wanted to curb the influence of lobbyists.
“I won't take money from PACs, won't take money from federal registered lobbyists,” then- Sen. Obama said during a stump speech on Oct. 9, 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio. “They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I'm president.”