Joe Biden stacks White House with Obama-era officials whose wealth has skyrocketed: Report
Some of the top names in the list include Susan Rice, Jeff Zients, Ron Klain and Brian Deese
The Joe Biden administration, which took oath on January 20, has seen the return of several officials of the Barack Obama administration (2009-17) to the White House and with them have come a vast wealth. Some of them even have deep links with corporate interests. New financial disclosure reports have shown.
ABC News analyzed the latest disclosure reports to say that many of Biden’s top White House aides, including Chief of Staff Ron Klain, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice and presidential counselor and coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients have seen their financial fortunes substantially multiplying over the past few years. Rice, who served as the UN ambassador and national security advisor (NSA) under the Obama administration, is among the wealthiest members of the current administration with her wealth seeing a dramatic rise since her last stint in the White House. Her new disclosure filing released on Saturday, March 20, showed her wealth rising between $36 million and $149 million in various assets. That is almost three to four times the amount she reported in 2009 when she joined the Obama administration as the UN ambassador.
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Her reported wealth then was between $13.6 and $40.4 million and it did not go up dramatically during her stint as the NSA. In her latest filing, Rice, 56, reported holding shares worth between $250,000 and $5 million in major corporate bodies including Johnson & Johnson, Apple and Microsoft besides having a sizeable amount of stock options in Netflix, where she served as a board member and reportedly earned more than $300,000 from exercising Netflix stock options recently. Besides, she also reported shares in many oil and gas companies, including Canada’s multinational gas distribution company Enbridge Inc.
Klain, who served as the chief of staff to Biden in 2009-11 when he was the vice president, has also seen his wealth trebling since 2009, a comparison of his past and new disclosures revealed, according to ABC News. When he joined as Biden’s chief of staff, Klain reportedly owned assets worth between $1.4 million and $3.5 million and now he has joined the Biden administration with assets between $4.4 million and $12.2 million. Much of his wealth comes from various assets that are related to his employment. Last year, the 59-year-old Klain got nearly $2 million in salary from Revolution LLC, a venture capital firm, where he worked as an executive vice president and general counsel. That is double the amount he received in salary as reported in his filing from early 2009.
Zients reported owning between over $89 million and $442 million in assets, including various investment funds, real estate property, etc. He has also divested his shares in his private investment firm -- Cranemere Group -- and shares worth $1million in Facebook, where he worked as a board member between 2018 and 2020. In the past year, Zients, 54, reportedly made between $10.4 million and $28 million in income, including his seven-figure salary from his investment company.
Deese, who also served in the Obama administration in various roles, including a senior presidential advisor, also saw his wealth rising dramatically since 2009, when he first joined as Obama’s special assistant for economic policy. In 2015, when Deese was a few months into the role of the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, his owning was reportedly between $81,000 and $215,000 in assets. Now, as the director of the National Economic Council, the 43-year-old Deese has reported between $2 million and $7.2 million in assets. Before joining the Biden administration, Deese made $2.3 million in salary from investment company BlackRock, compared to the salary of $175,000 he received in his last year as the deputy OMB director in the Obama administration, the ABC News report added.
The White House has defended these high-profile leaders whose finances have skyrocketed since their last tenure at the federal administration. “These White House officials are experienced government leaders whose past private sector experience is part of a broad and diverse skill set they bring to government service,” a White House spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. “They have returned to government because of their deep commitment to public service, their desire to help bring our nation out of this time of crisis, and their strong belief that government can work for the American people.”