White House lists political appointees receiving waivers for ethics rules

The White House has posted on its website a list of advisers who received waivers for ethics rules barring executive branch employees from working on matters related to former employment. President Trump implemented policies preventing any executive branch senior official from working on matters dealing with prior clients or employers for two years in an effort to “drain the swamp.”

A total of 14 ethics waivers were granted to 17 political appointees late Wednesday. They include advisers Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus and Vice President Chief of Staff Joshua Pitcock. The waivers allow Bannon to speak with former journalist employees at Breitbart and Conway to contact clients of her political polling company.

Former RNC chair Priebus will now be allowed to communicate with the Republican Party’s national apparatus and Pitcock, a former Indiana lobbyist, is permitted under a waiver to serve Vice President Mike Pence in any matter concerning the Hoosier State.

Other advisers bestowed waivers include Michael Catanzaro, a former oil lobbyist now working on energy policies, and Shahira Knight, an adviser on retirement and tax matters who worked for a financial company specializing in retirement services.

The White House issued waivers if, after vetting, the White House Counsel Don McGahn and Chief Ethics Officer Stefan Passantino found it would be too impractical for a person to recuse themselves.

“To the furthest extent possible, counsel worked with each staffer to recuse from conflicting conduct rather than being granted waivers, which has led to the limited number of waivers being issued,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

President Obama imposed similar ethics rules and granted 66 waivers to federal appointees, including White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.  The Obama administration posted the exceptions to the White House website at the time.

 

[AP] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Drew Angerer/CNN]