Steve Ricchetti Is Tapped for the West Wing’s Wise-Man Role

Later that year, Mr. Ricchetti and a dozen advisers — including Mr. Biden’s sister Valerie and Mr. Donilon, a publicity-shy message specialist whose appointment as a senior adviser was also announced on Tuesday — organized a network of post-vice-presidency nonprofits to provide an outlet for Mr. Biden’s policy interests and a launching pad for one last presidential run.

Mr. Ricchetti also served as Mr. Biden’s business manager, negotiating his seven-figure book deal and helping set up a $100-a-head book tour that helped the Bidens earn $15.6 million over the past three years, according to people with knowledge of his activities.

Mr. Ricchetti’s goal was to ensure Mr. Biden’s financial security “in the cleanest way possible, without doing anything he would ever have to apologize for,” as Mr. Ricchetti told a friend this year.

Mr. Ricchetti, a Cleveland-area native whose earthy, chatty demeanor mirrors Mr. Biden’s discursive regular-guy style, came to Washington straight out of college to work in the health insurance industry. He quickly showed an aptitude for fund-raising, which propelled him through a series of government and lobbying jobs.

He wound up wealthy, running a lucrative lobbying firm with a roster of clients that included General Motors, Experian, the American Hospital Association, AT&T, Eli Lilly, Nextel, Novartis and Pfizer, which is developing a coronavirus vaccine, before joining Mr. Biden’s staff.

The only public accounting of his income and assets, recorded in federal disclosure documents in 2012, revealed annual earnings of about $2 million from his firm, with assets, much of it in cash accounts, in the range of $3 million to $12 million.

Mr. Ricchetti’s K Street and Clinton connections were initially too much for President Barack Obama’s advisers, including Jim Messina and David Plouffe, who tried to block Mr. Biden from hiring him, according to people close to the situation.

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