- The Treasury Department said that J.J. Ricchetti, the son of White House counselor and longtime Biden confidant Steve Ricchetti, would be a special assistant in the office of legislative affairs.
- The announcement gave no details on what the role would entail, nor did it refer to whom J.J. Ricchetti, a recent college graduate, is related.
- A Biden White House official, who declined to be named in order to speak on the matter, said the administration hired Ricchetti's son since he volunteered on the campaign.
The son of one of President Joe Biden's most important White House advisors just landed a job at the Treasury Department.
The Treasury Department said Monday that J.J. Ricchetti, the son of White House counselor and longtime Biden confidant Steve Ricchetti, would be a special assistant in the office of legislative affairs.
The announcement gave no details on what the role would entail, nor did it refer to whom J.J. Ricchetti is related. It only says that he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania last year with a bachelor's degree in political science.
A Biden White House official, who declined to be named in order to speak on the matter, said the administration hired Ricchetti's son after he volunteered on the campaign. Because the post is an entry level position at Treasury, the official stressed that it would not involve collaborating with senior White House officials.
The Friars Senior Society of the University of Pennsylvania lists J.J. Ricchetti under the class of 2020. In an interview with the Friars' website, J.J. Ricchetti touts a quote from his mother, Amy, as one of his favorite quotes. Amy Ricchetti is Steve Ricchetti's wife.
Steve Ricchetti is a key advisor for Biden on his $2 trillion infrastructure reform proposal, and remains a point of contact for members of Congress on the issue.
Then there are the pictures on Steve Ricchetti's Facebook page showing the younger J.J. Ricchetti in family photos. "Im a mini," J.J. Ricchetti's comment reads on one of the old Facebook photos from 2011.
There was no indication that Steve Ricchetti helped his son nab the job.
A 2016 Congressional Research Service analysis highlights the hurdles White House and administration officials have to go through in order to avoid accusations of nepotism.
"The federal anti-nepotism statute applies to all public officials (including the President and Members of Congress) in all three branches of the federal government," the report says. "Such officials are barred from appointing, hiring, or promoting – or advocating for the appointment, hiring, or promotion of – a specific class of relatives to a civilian position in the agency in which that official serves or over which the official exercises authority."
Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics under former Presidents Barack Obama and, for a short time, Donald Trump, expressed displeasure at Treasury's Ricchetti hire.
"The nepotism law doesn't apply unless Ricchetti was involved in his son's hiring. But it should raise eyebrows when the child of a senior political appointee is hired straight out of college into a prominent position," Shaub told CNBC on Monday. "In a nation of over 300 million people, is the son of a top White House official the only person qualified for the job? It has a Jared and Ivanka feel to it."
Nepotism was a big concern during the Trump administration, particularly since the former president employed his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner as top White House advisors.
Steve Ricchetti and the Treasury Department did not return requests for comment.
Meanwhile, CNBC previously reported that Steve Ricchetti's brother, Jeff, had been lobbying the White House for some of his corporate clients.
Lobbying disclosures show that Jeff Ricchetti lobbied the Executive Office of the President for health-care giants GlaxoSmithKline, Horizon Therapeutics and Vaxart Inc.
Ethics experts have told CNBC that it is concerning to see Jeff Ricchetti engaging with the EOP while his brother advises Biden.