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Biden Aides’ Corporate Ties Should Surprise No One

Newly released documents show Joe Biden's White House staffers recently working as consultants for Lyft, billionaire foundations, and an Israeli facial recognition firm. It's another reminder of the revolving door between big business and the state.

President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House on March 18, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden’s top White House staffers previously consulted for ride-hailing company Lyft, an Israeli facial recognition firm, and billionaires’ philanthropic foundations, according to new financial disclosure forms obtained by The Daily Poster.

While Biden’s cabinet officials have already detailed their extensive corporate consulting work and paid speaking gigs, the Biden administration is just now starting to release the financial disclosure forms filed by senior White House staff, launching a new web page on Friday where people can request the filings. The new disclosures provide more detail about links between top administration officials and corporations lobbying the Biden administration.

White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, a deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama in 2012, listed more than a dozen clients she worked for at the communications consulting firm Precision Strategies, including Lyft and General Electric.

Lyft helped bankroll a successful ballot measure campaign in California last year allowing the company to continue classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Lyft and other gig economy companies are hoping to export the policy nationwide.

O’Malley Dillon also consulted for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic organization, known as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and for Gates Ventures, the private office of billionaire Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates.

Her other clients included Arkansans for a Fair Wage, a committee that backed a 2018 ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Arkansas to $11, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who served as a White House communications director under Obama, wrote that she served as a consultant for Lyft, too. She also disclosed handling crisis communications for AnyVision, a facial recognition firm whose technology has reportedly been used by Israel to surveil Palestinians in the West Bank, according to NBC News.

Microsoft, which had invested in AnyVision, hired former Obama attorney general Eric Holder and his team at the law firm Covington & Burling to conduct an independent investigation into the reports. While their audit concluded that “AnyVision’s technology has not previously and does not currently power a mass surveillance program in the West Bank that has been alleged in media reports,” Microsoft said it would sell its stakes in AnyVision and other facial recognition companies.

Psaki is one of several Biden administration hires who worked at WestExec Advisors, a corporate consultancy cofounded by Biden’s secretary of state, Tony Blinken. She did not specifically name her clients at the firm.

She separately disclosed consulting for Jeff Anderson and Associates, a law firm that seeks justice for children who suffer sexual abuse, and the Zero Abuse Project, a charitable organization founded by Jeff Anderson whose mission is to protect children from abuse and sexual assault.

White House deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed, a longtime DC deficit hawk and former Bill Clinton aide, disclosed providing policy consulting services to the Walton Family Foundation, the charitable arm of the billionaire family that founded Walmart.

Reed also consulted for Manhattan West LLC. The New York Post reported in 2011 that billionaire Mike Bloomberg’s “longtime accountant set up Manhattan West LLC to pay some city employees over $100,000 each to work for his charity” when he was the mayor of New York. Reed reportedly advised Bloomberg on a potential presidential campaign in early 2019, before joining Biden’s 2020 campaign.

White House counselor Steve Ricchetti reported being paid $280,000 by his eponymous firm, Ricchetti Consulting Group. While Ricchetti did not list any clients, the New York Times reported last year that he had been working for telecom giant AT&T.

Ricchetti’s brother, Jeff, is a lobbyist and has brought in several new clients since Biden’s victory, including AmazonGeneral Motors, and TC Energy, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, which Biden blocked on his first day in office.