Companies gear up for Biden administration with lobbyist hiring spree

Key Points
  • Over a dozen companies are gearing up for Joe Biden to enter the White House with a recent hiring spree of lobbyists.
  • Lyft Inc., the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company, hired a lobbyist who was a director of legislative affairs for Biden when he was vice president.
  • Steve Ricchetti, Biden's campaign chairman and a former lobbyist himself, is being considered to lead the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

In this article

President-elect Joe Biden speaks to reporters about efforts to confront the coronavirus diisease (COVID-19) pandemic after meeting with members of his "Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board" in Wilmington, Delaware, November 9, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

As Joe Biden appeared to be on the path to winning the 2020 presidential election, several companies and business groups went on a hiring spree for lobbyists who could influence the incoming administration.

Both in the buildup to Election Day and the days that followed, at least a dozen businesses started hiring lobbyists, with some having ties to Biden himself. Most national polls had Biden ahead of President Donald Trump going into Nov. 3. NBC News and other major outlets called the race for the former vice president on Nov. 7.

A recent batch of disclosure reports shows that these businesses started bringing on lobbyists during that time frame, as industries started to prepare for the possibility of a new president.

A few of the lobbyists that have been brought on board have relationships with President-elect Biden and his team, including his incoming White House chief of staff, Ron Klain.

Steve Ricchetti, Biden's campaign chairman and a former lobbyist himself, is in line to possibly get a job within the administration. One of the roles being considered for Ricchetti is the head of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, according to a person briefed on the matter. This person declined to be named in order to speak freely.

Lyft Inc., the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company, hired a lobbyist who was a director of legislative affairs for Biden when he was vice president, according to the disclosure report. Sudafi Henry, the former Biden legislative affairs director, and Darrel Thompson, who previously held numerous positions under former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, were registered to start lobbying on Nov. 6. Reid has been a staunch ally of Biden's for years.

Henry and Thompson both work for the lobbying shop TheGroup DC. Lyft, the filing says, hired the firm to focus on "issues related to transportation policy, worker classification." The ride-hailing company is part of a larger fight on California's Proposition 22. The law certifies mobile app-based drivers as employees rather than contractors.

The Medical Alley Association brought on T.J. Petrizzo, leader of the Petrizzo Group. Members of the Minnesota-based medical association include Boston Scientific, EcoLab, FedEx, GE Healthcare and United Healthcare.

After recently hiring Petrizzo for a wide range of issues, some of which are connected to coronavirus relief bills, Medical Alley's CEO sent a letter to Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their transition team.

"We are ready and willing to brief, or provide virtual overview to, the recently appointed COVID
Task Force on any specific aspect of Medical Alley's engagement with the response to the virus," Shaye Mandle, the CEO, wrote on Monday.

"What we're doing now is starting to engage with the new administration and Congress, immediately, to discuss who we are, what we've been doing and where we are headed, and offering to engage and collaborate with them on policies needed now," Petrizzo said in an interview with CNBC.

The California Life Sciences Association brought on a group of lobbyists from Forbes-Tate who also have previous experience working with Biden's allies in Congress.

Rachel Miller, a partner at the firm, was a legislative assistant to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Starting Nov. 10, the firm will help the trade association with "issues related to the life sciences industry," according to the filing.

KPMG, a multifaceted consulting giant, brought on a group of longtime lobbyists from the Consilio Group, a recent filing said. They started lobbying on Nov. 4 and are focused on "disaster relief," the lobbying report said. They list the company's address in the Ivory Coast as the place where they're focusing their efforts.

Oliver Meissner, the CEO of Consilio, later told CNBC the firm is keeping an eye on the Georgia Senate runoffs and that Consilio anticipates its efforts will be aided by a Biden administration.

"We see the upcoming Biden Administration to be a positive for our projects, and are working on Covid-19 related relief efforts," he said in an email. "We are working on interface with the transition team and preparing for congressional dynamics including the Georgia Senate runoffs which could directly affect certain initiatives, including size and of upcoming Covid-19 relief and other funding measures."

Biden hosted a joint meeting Monday with labor union leaders and the chief executives of major tech, retail and auto companies. General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Target CEO Brian Cornell and Sonia Syngal, the CEO of Gap, all attended the virtual meeting.

A Biden transition spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The Biden team is developing its own vaccine distribution plans