The White House just granted a bunch of former lobbyists ethics waivers
The White House on Wednesday disclosed a group of former lobbyists working in President Donald Trump’s administration who have been issued ethics waivers, following a request from the U.S. government’s ethics agency.
The list of at least 11 waivers include White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, according to a chart issued on the White House website. (http://bit.ly/1LPKWx8)
Conway is permitted to “participate in communications and meetings involving former clients which are political, advocacy, trade or non-profit organizations,” while Priebus, a former Republican National Committee chairman, is allowed to have communications and meetings with the RNC, the document says.
Shortly after taking office in January, Trump signed an executive order barring lobbyists who joined the administration from working on issues related to their prior work. But the administration has the power to grant waivers to particular hires, exempting them from that restriction.
Also on the list is Michael Catanzaro, a special assistant to the president and a former oil and gas lobbyist, who is cleared to weigh in on energy policy.
Daniel Epstein, associate counsel to the president, “may provide legal advice to the White House Office or any agency of the executive branch and to take positions adverse to Cause of Action Institute.”
Shahira Knight, a special assistant to the president who formerly worked for Fidelity, a financial services company, “may participate in broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to tax, retirement and financial services issues.”
Andrew Olmem, a special assistant to Trump who worked as an attorney to the Senate Banking Committee during the financial crisis, is cleared to join meetings with former clients involving Puerto Rico’s fiscal issues, along with a wide range of activities involving financial regulation.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), had promised in a letter on Friday that the White House would comply with a request from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to provide information on which former lobbyists are working in the administration.
Mulvaney said in the letter that the administration was not seeking to impede efforts by OGE to obtain that information, despite earlier protests from Walter Shaub, the agency’s director.
Shaub, an appointee under President Barack Obama in the final year of a five-year term, had requested in April copies of waivers the Trump administration granted to former lobbyists now appointed to positions in the government. Those requests were sent to agencies across the administration, seeking waivers that would allow former lobbyists to work on issues they had been involved with as paid advocates.
But OMB requested a stay of that request, prompting a fierce response from Shaub. He called the request “highly unusual” and said his agency has the authority to take “corrective action proceedings” against agencies that refuse its requests.
In his Friday response, Mulvaney said the requested stay was not an attempt to stifle OGE efforts but rather to provide more time to “ensure sufficient consideration was given to legal questions.”
“OMB has never sought to impede OGE,” he wrote.
Mulvaney closed the letter by saying the OMB did not grant any lobbyist waivers itself.
(Reporting by Eric Walsh and Pete Schroeder; Editing by Michael Perry)