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Former lobbyist on Biden campaign payroll is raising cash for former VP

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Democratic Presidential candidate former vice president Joe Biden speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the RiverCenter on October 16, 2019 in Davenport, Iowa.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden is turning to his campaign chairman, who was also formerly a lobbyist, to help him get a boost in the fourth quarter fundraising game.

Steve Ricchetti, who previously served as Biden’s chief of staff as a member of President Barack Obama’s administration, will be hosting a fundraiser on Monday in Washington D.C., according to people familiar with the event and an invite obtained by CNBC.

Prior to his role on Biden’s White House team, Ricchetti was a lobbyist for a wide range of clients, including a variety of pharmaceutical titans.

People familiar with the gathering noted that a handful of lobbyists were invited to the fundraising event. Biden has said that “from day one” he will not accept donations from lobbyists and the campaign has publicly insisted that’s still the case.

Earlier in the campaign, Biden’s operation took in and later returned donations they received from lobbyists. Biden’s aides meanwhile have tried to block lobbyists from gaining access to the former vice president. Biden is currently having a strong fourth quarter with his fundraising efforts.

While Ricchetti is the chairman of the Biden campaign, his firm, Ricchetti Consulting, has been paid over $52,000 for “strategic consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission records.

The gathering was noted in a weekly update memo to donors, and it listed other events with Biden as the featured guest on the west coast, including in California and Nevada. Biden is likely not attending the Ricchetti fundraiser as his schedule does not mention he’s taking part in the event and only says the former vice president is meeting with advisors.

Biden is not the only candidate who doesn’t take part in fundraisers that are hosted by campaign officials. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s co-finance chair, Shanti Fry, recently invited donors to attend an event in the Los Angeles area that was scheduled for Dec. 7.┬áThe list of hosts included Hollywood actors, writers and producers and it noted that Warren was on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

Biden just wrapped up a bus tour in Iowa and he too was just in the Granite State for campaign events.

Data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the former Biden aide was president of lobbying shop, Ricchetti Inc., starting in 2001. He represented clients of pharmaceutical giants such as Eli Lily, Novartis and Pfizer. He also did lobbying work for Fannie Mae in the buildup to the 2008 financial crisis. The firms highest grossing year was in 2007, when they brought in $3.4 million for their services.

A spokesman for Biden declined to comment. Ricchetti did not return a request for comment.

For Biden, the decision to turn to Ricchetti for assistance with campaign fundraising comes at a critical moment for his 2020 presidential run.

In trying to rebound in the fourth quarter, Biden is looking to catch up to his rivals in Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg after only raising $15 million the prior three months of the campaign. He went into the next quarter with only $8.9 million on hand.

Still, Biden is on track to have one his best fundraising sprees of the campaign.

The Associated Press reported that the Biden campaign raised $15 million over the past two months, with campaign manager Greg Schultz saying in a memo that the former vice president has surpassed his third quarter totals.

The final quarter of the year ends on Dec. 31.

Biden fundraising memo:



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