Business

Biden’s closest advisors have ties to big business with some making millions

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the state of vaccinations during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response event in the East Room at the White House in Washington, March 18, 2021.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

President Joe Biden’s closest advisors have ties to big business and Wall Street, with some making millions of dollars in their careers leading up to entering the White House, new financial disclosures show.

The senior Biden aides listed in the disclosures include chief of staff Ron Klain, deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, senior advisor Mike Donilon, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese.

These disclosures show that many of the president’s closest aides have deep ties to the business world and have made more money in their past corporate careers than previously known.

These disclosures were provided by the White House to CNBC early Saturday morning after requesting the documents a day earlier. None of these positions were confirmed by the Senate. Many of these advisors have previous ties to Biden’s campaign or former President Barack Obama’s administration.

A White House spokesperson did not return a follow up request for comment.

Deese was previously the Global Head of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock before becoming the head of the National Economic Council. While at the investment firm, Deese’s disclosure shows he made over $2.3 million in salary and bonuses. His disclosure also suggests that through BlackRock’s restricted stock plan, Deese could have made an additional $2.4 million.

Klain, who was an executive at the venture capital firm Revolution before joining the White House, was listed as having a salary of $1.8 million. He started at the company in 2005.

O’Malley Dillon, who ran Biden’s campaign before following him to the White House, was a co-founder of the consulting firm Precision Strategies. The founders of the firm are credited with helping reelect Obama in 2012.

O’Malley Dillon’s new financial disclosure gives a glimpse into the corporate advisory work she did for the firm before coming to the White House. The filing lists Gates Ventures as a client of O’Malley Dillon’s while she was at Precision Strategies.

According to PitchBook, Gates Ventures is a venture capital firm founded by billionaire Bill Gates. The current deputy White House chief of staff also advised the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic arm of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Other corporations that saw her guidance include General Electric and Lyft. O’Malley Dillon’s deferred compensation and severance from Precision is listed as being over $420,000.

Donilon was a managing member of MCD Strategies, a media consulting firm, prior to his role in the White House. His filing shows that he made over $4 million in income while leading his consulting firm. Donilon lists the Biden campaign and Democratic National Convention Committee as two of his clients.

Zients was the CEO of the Wall Street investment firm Cranemere before becoming a lead advisor to the Biden White House on the coronavirus pandemic. His financial disclosure shows that he had a combined salary and bonus of $1.6 million. As board member of Facebook, the new report shows he made over $330,000.


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