The White House Tuesday evening disclosed that almost three weeks ago the Obama administration granted ethics wavers for two additional officials who had previously worked as lobbyists. On February 20 the administration signed waivers for Jocelyn Frye, former general counsel at the National Partnership for Women & Families, and Cecilia Muñoz, the former senior vice president for the National Council of La Raza, allowing them to work on issues for which they lobbied.
These two are in addition to deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn, a former Raytheon lobbyist whose waiver was granted two days after President Obama announced on January 21 what he heralded as the most sweeping ethics rules in American history — ones that would "close the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely."
The Executive Order on Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel requires that lobbyists who become members of Obama administration will not be able to work on matters they lobbied on for two years, or in the agencies they lobbied during the previous two years. Out of approximately 800 executive branch appointments, three waivers have been granted, the Obama administration said.
Not all of the former lobbyists entering the administration have required the formal waivers; the White House has also required incoming administration officials who worked as lobbyists to write letters of recusal, indicating issues that they will stay away from dealing with because of their previous jobs. But those letters of recusal have not yet been disclosed.
Frye’s waiver, signed by Norm Eisen, the special counsel to the President and designate agency ethics official, states that it’s "in the public interest to grant the waiver because Ms. Fry’s expertise in the areas in which she acted as a registered lobbyist is essential to her service to the Office of the First Lady." Frye, director of policy and projects in the Office of the First Lady, has "a particular focus on women, families and on engagement with the greater D.C. community," the White House says. Having directed the National Partnership’s Workplace Fairness Program in her previous job, she focused on "employment and gender discrimination issues, with a particular emphasis on employment barriers facing women of color and low-income women."
Muñoz’s waiver was granted also in the public interest "because Ms. Munoz’s knowledge and expertise are vital to the functioning of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs," Eisen wrote. As director of intergovernmental affairs in the Executive Office of the President, Muñoz is chief liaison to the Latino community, in addition to coordinating with state and local governments. signed by Norm Eisen, the special counsel to the President and designate agency ethics official, states that it’s "in the public interest to grant the waiver because Ms. Fry’s expertise in the areas in which she acted as a registered lobbyist is essential to her service to the Office of the First Lady."
"We took the rare step of granting the waivers to Ms. Frye and Ms. Muñoz because of the importance of their respective positions and because of each woman’s unequalled qualifications for her job," Eisen said. "Each is a leading substantive expert on the relevant issue areas and each also has long-standing relationships with constituencies important to their respective offices."