Biden White House powered by family connections
For some Biden administration members, it's all in the family
It's all in the family for some well-known members of the Biden administration.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, senior adviser Anita Dunn, White House counselor Steve Richetti, deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed and Presidential Personnel Office Director Cathy Russell each have at least one direct family member working for the Biden administration.
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Psaki's sister Stephanie Psaki was appointed to a senior adviser role within the Department of Health and Human Services in March. Her official title is senior adviser on human rights and gender equity in the Office of Global Affairs. Stephanie Psaki has a Ph.D. in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and previously worked at the Population Council, an international nongovernmental organization.
Jen Psaki has referred to Stephanie Psaki as her "nerdy (in a good way) sister" on Twitter.
"Thanks to my nerdy (in a good way) sister for reminding us of this absurd census issue," Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter in 2019 in response to a tweet from Stephanie Psaki about the Trump administration's push for a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
In Sullivan's case, his wife, younger brother and sister-in-law work for the Biden administration. The national security adviser's younger brother Tom Sullivan is deputy chief of staff for policy at the State Department after holding the same position during the Obama administration (Jake Sullivan served in both the White House and State Department under Obama). Tom Sullivan's wife Rose Baumann Sullivan is acting assistant secretary for legislation at HHS, according to the department's website. She was previously a lobbyist for companies including Verizon, Google parent Alphabet and CVS Health, according to Open Secrets.
Jake Sullivan's wife Maggie Goodlander is counsel to Attorney General Merrick Garland after clerking for Garland, according to Politico.
Blinken's wife Evan Ryan is White House Cabinet secretary, an appointed position without Senate confirmation that entails being a go-between for the president and Cabinet departments and agencies. Ryan is an Obama White House alum who served as assistant to the vice president and special assistant to the president for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement from 2009 to 2013, according to her archived bio.
After working in the Obama administration, Ryan joined Axios during its launch in January 2017 as the executive vice president. She would serve in that role until last year when she joined the Biden-Harris transition team as a senior adviser.
Meanwhile, Biden's senior adviser Anita Dunn, who has said her position is temporary, is married to Bob Bauer, who co-chairs the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the U.S., which is looking at so-called Supreme Court reform.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain's wife Monica Medina is Biden's nominee for assistant secretary of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Science Affairs.
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Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of Americans For Public Trust, a right-of-center watchdog group, blasted the hiring practices of the Biden White House, saying they "undermine public confidence in his administration."
"Hire after hire, Joe Biden continues to undermine public confidence in his administration by filling powerful positions with operatives from vast dark money networks and their family members," Sutherland said in a statement to Fox News. "These hires provide no assurances to the American people they will represent the public's interests rather than simply execute the agendas of the money behind them."
Several Biden aides and advisers' children have secured positions within the administration. Daniel Ricchetti and Shannon Ricchetti are the son and daughter of White House counselor Steve Ricchetti. Daniel Ricchetti is a senior adviser in the office of the under secretary of State for arms control and international security, and Shannon Ricchetti is deputy associate director at the office of the White House social secretary.
Steve Ricchetti's brother Jeff Ricchetti is a lobbyist, and Jeff Ricchetti clarified in April that while he has been in touch with the Biden administration, he does not lobby his brother.
"I do not lobby my brother and I have not even mentioned to him the names of clients that I currently represent," Jeff Ricchetti previously told CNBC. "For the better part of the last thirty years I have lobbied Members of Congress and their staff, and various individuals who have served in the successive Administrations. It is what I do for a living."
Biden's deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed's daughter Julia Reed was recently hired as Biden's day scheduler, according to Politico. Sarah Donilon, the daughter of Cathy Russell, head of the Presidential Personnel Office, and Tom Donilon, former national security adviser, was recently hired as a special assistant in the National Security Council's Asia directorate, Politico reported. She is also the niece of Mike Donilon, a longtime Biden adviser and a current senior adviser in Biden's White House.
"As Fox News can attest from firsthand experience, there is nothing wrong with hiring people who have strong credentials and qualifications and happen to be relatives of other staffers," White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates, a former Hillary Clinton campaign aide, said in an emailed statement.
The Trump administration faced accusations of nepotism due to former president Donald Trump's reliance on his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner to advise him. Neither Ivanka Trump nor Kushner took a salary during their time as advisers to Trump, and for 2020 and early 2021 they saw their personal income drop more than 20% from 2019 and early 2020, Bloomberg News reported.
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The Trump administration also received criticism for hiring relatives of Trump and top aides. Kyle Yunaska, the former president's son Eric Trump's brother-in-law, was hired as chief of staff of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis in 2017. Former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka's wife Katharine Gorka was senior adviser in the Office of Policy at the Department of Homeland Security from 2017 to 2019. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' husband Richard DeVos, former CEO of Amway, was appointed to the Federal Aviation Administration's Management Advisory Council in 2017. Betsy DeVos' sister-in-law Pamella DeVos was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2020.
Fox News' Dom Calicchio contributed to this report.