White House Discloses 10 More Ethics Waivers for Administration Officials

By Jaketapper

Sep 5, 2009 2:52pm

Calling President Obama's Executive Order on Ethics for Executive Branch personnel "the strongest ethics standards in U.S. government history," White House counsel Norm Eisen on Friday announced 10 more waivers for Obama administration officials.

The waivers will allow the officials to participate with persons with whom and entities with which "the appointees formerly had a professional relationship," Eisen wrote, "because there was a compelling public interest in allowing it."

The waivers are for:

* NASA administrator Charles Bolden; Bolden served as a consultant to the science, engineering, and technology corporation SAIC, which has billions in government contracts, and on the board of directors of aerospace and defense giant GenCorp.

The President's ethics rules would otherwise prohibit Bolden from participaring in any matter in which SAIC or GenCorp was a party in any way. That was waived because Bolden's "knowledge of and expertise in current NASA programs are essential to making informed and timely decision-making." He is still not allowed to engage in one-on-one meetings or communications with either organization or to participate in contracting matters involving either company.

* Associate Deputy Secretary of Labor Naomi Walker; Walker was Director of State Government Affairs for the AFL-CIO but has been permitted to communicate with that organization because, the Obama administration decided, prohibiting her from doing so would be detrimental to the Department of Labor and the AFL-CIO's 11 million members. She is still prohibited for the next two years to participate in any  matter having to do with regulations or contracts involving the AFL-CIO.

* Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Ash Carter; Carter was a consultant for defense giant Textron, Inc. focusing on strategy and mergers and acquisitions, trends in military technology and strategy, and how and where military platforms and weapon systems could be deployed effectively. Carter also provided advice on the Sensor Fuzed Weapon, a cluster bomb used by the U.S. Air Force. 

Carter is permitted to have dealings with Textron and any of its divisions and subsidiaries because, in the view of the Obama administration, "national security challenges require your expertise and judgment in making sound acquisition decisions on major defense programs, several of which involve Textron or one of its subsidiaries."

* Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer previously worked for the law firm Covington & Burling; Deputy Attorney General David Ogden worked for Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.

All three are permitted to cooperate and participate in the investigation into possible prosecutorial misconduct in the case of U.S. v Theodore Stevens even though government lawyers whose conduct is in question are represented by both law firms. The three otherwise remain recused from participation in particular matters with parties in which their previous employers represents a party.

* Deputy Under Secretary for National Protection and Programs Directorate and Director of the National Cybersecurity Center in the Department of Homeland Security Philip Reitinger; Reirliner worked for Microsoft Corportation as Chief Trustworthy Infrastructure Strategy from 2003 until March 2009. Because of his "unique expertise, industry perspective and responsibilities for cyber programs," he is permitted to deal with Microsoft;

* Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Education Margot Rogers and Department of Education Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement James Shelton both worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which works on education issues. Both are allowed to have communications with that charitable foundation;

* Peace Corps director Aaron Williams; Williams served on the board of directors of the National Peace Corps Association, and is now prohibited from participating in any matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to NPCA.

Eisen said that waivers have gone to only 16 out of approximately 1,890 appointments.

Previous waivers went to:

* Former Raytheon lobbyist, now Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn;

* Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, the former Vice Chair of the non-profit entity "Chicago 2016," who is leading the White House's efforts to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago;

* Director of Policy and Projects in the Office of the First Lady Jocelyn Frye, who is former general counsel at the National Partnership for Women & Families;

* Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Executive Office of the President Cecilia Muñoz, former senior vice president for the National Council of La Raza; and

* Associate White House Counsels Jonathan Kravis and Chris Weideman, former employees of Williams & Connolly LLP, which represented the office of former President George W. Bush.

-jpt

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