Global Economy

Biden advisor's brother plans to lobby for Taiwan company that developed Covid-19 vaccine


Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti (C) gestures after playing a round of golf with US President Joe Biden at Wilmington Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware on April 17, 2021.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

The brother of one of President Joe Biden‘s closest advisors plans to work on behalf of a client that developed a Covid-19 vaccine.

Medigen Vaccine Biologics earlier this month hired lobbyist Jeff Ricchetti, the brother of White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, according to a new lobbying disclosure report first reviewed by CNBC.

The registration form shows Ricchetti filed to lobby for the biopharmaceutical firm in mid-December and will focus on what the document says are “issues related to Covid-19 vaccines accepted for foreign travelers to the United States.”

Medigen’s Covid vaccine has only been approved for use in Taiwan, where the company is based. Its decision to hire Ricchetti comes as the U.S. sees a wave of new Covid cases and the Biden administration scrambles to deal with the fallout.

For Medigen, landing Ricchetti as a lobbyist could represent a new effort to get its Covid-19 vaccine approved for those traveling to the United States by air and to expand its influence in the Biden administration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website does not list the Medigen vaccine as acceptable for those traveling into the U.S.

Taiwan is an island self-governed by a democratically elected government and is in a standoff with neighboring China over its independence. China has claimed that Taiwan is its territory and has repeatedly threatened to take drastic measures to stop what it considers the country’s moves toward independence.

Ricchetti and Medigen did not return a request for comment.

Jeff Ricchetti is the first lobbyist hired by the Taiwan-based company, according to public records. Ricchetti has seen a wave of new clients since the start of the new administration. They include e-commerce giant Amazon. His brother Steve was directly involved in helping to win congressional support for Biden’s recently signed $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

Jeff Ricchetti previously lobbied the Biden White House for health care giants such as GlaxoSmithKline, Horizon Therapeutics and Vaxart Inc. but he no longer plans to engage directly with the White House on behalf of clients, he told CNBC earlier this year.



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