DoD may force some Bush appointees out with ethics pledge
Stephen C. Webster
Published: Thursday April 9, 2009

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Time may be running short for Bush administration appointees who remain in the Department of Defense.

According to a new report by Government Executive, holdover employees from the last administration will be required to sign an ethics pledge mandated by President Barack Obama on or before Friday, April 10, or resign by the end of the month.

"In an April 7 e-mail [PDF link], Robert Rangel, special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, gave all Bush holdovers until the close of business on Friday to sign the agreement, which puts restrictions on post-government employment," the Web site reported. "Politicos who refuse to comply will be required to leave their position by the end of April."

"In December, Rangel asked political appointees to remain at the department until the new administration made a decision regarding their status," continued GovExec reporter Robert Brodsky. "But in a Feb. 27 e-mail [PDF link] to those appointees, he recognized that some might be unwilling to abide by the ethics pledge."

"As you are likely aware, the first Executive Order signed out by President Obama established a new ethics policy," Rangel wrote in his Feb. 27th memo. "This Executive Order was designed to apply to incoming political appointees. However, the question of how this policy would apply to holdover political appointees was not addressed at the time. We recently received guidance from the White House establishing that the new Ethics Executive Order [...] will be applicable to all individuals remaining in a holdover status after the first 100 days of the administration (i.e. after April 30, 2009).

"When you were invited to remain in a holdover status, we also asked you to provide any limitations such as a specified timeline for departure or other considerations. At that time we did not anticipate the requirement to eventually sign an Ethics Pledge [...] as prescribed by the new administration. However, it is now the case that in order for you to stay in your position beyond April 30 will require you to sign the Ethics Pledge."

"Whatever your decision, your willingness to serve and contribute to the continuity of the operation of the Department will be honored and appreciated," he added.

"On February 27, I sent you a political appointee transition update [...] focusing on the Obama Administration Ethics Executive Order and the associated Ethics Pledge," Rangel wrote on April 7. "Over the intervening weeks, numerous questions have been raised regarding the Executive Order and the Ethics Pledge. Accordingly, I commend to your attention the attached document, prepared by the Office of General Counsel, which provides a concise summary of these documents.

"Further, if you have not already done so, please notify me by COB this Friday, April 10, of your intention to agree to sign the ethics pledge or depart your position by April 30. Please provide your notification through Tom Tesch [...], Director of the Transition Task Force."

President Obama mandated the new ethics rules by executive order almost immediately after taking office.

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