White House says it has granted 14 ethics waivers to staff

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03 June, 2017

The waiver in question was undated and does not name Bannon specifically, but it would allow him to freely communicate with editors at the far-right news outlet, where he was once its executive chair.

On May 31, a day before Shaub's deadline, the Trump administration disclosed that the president had granted 13 waivers since signing his executive order.

On May 22, Schaub fired back with his own letter, stating "Agency ethics officials are well aware of their legal obligation to produce information and records subject to OGE's directives".

It prompted an official complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to be filed with the ethics office.

But experts point out that Trump's rules on former lobbyists were already more relaxed than what existed during Obama's tenure.

President Donald Trump is allowing at least 16 White House officials to work on issues they handled in their private-sector jobs.

"The sweeping nature of the waivers is problematic, applying to broad groups of current employees or former clients", Eisen pointed out. In the White House, she will be handling a "range of tax and financial policy matters".

Other former lobbyists now on the White House staff that were given waivers include Joshua Pitcock, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence; and Shahira Knight and Andrew Olmem, members of the National Economic Council. Pence was Indiana's governor before becoming vice president.

The EOP waiver states that all presidential appointees "may participate in communications and meetings with news organizations regarding broad policy matters".

In addition, the White House granted waivers to Michael Catanzaro, a domestic energy and environmental policy adviser who used to lobby for the energy industry. Last year, he was a registered lobbyist who counted an energy company as a client and worked on EPA regulations related to methane emissions. Both were issued ethics waivers freeing them to work alongside businesses they once represented. "The Administration has an interest in you working on covered matters due to your experience and expertise on these issues".

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During the campaign, Trump made uprooting the Washington establishment and pointing out his opponents' ties to lobbyists central to his message, particularly in the later weeks of his quest for office when he introduced the slogan "drain the swamp".

He later said, however, that he was concerned that one of the waivers was granted retroactively.

"The White House has voluntarily released the ethics waivers as part of the President's commitment to the American people to be transparent", Walters said in a statement.

Ethics watchdogs were not impressed with the White House granting the waivers to some of its staff, including ex-lobbyists. Under this blanket exemption, Steve Bannon is free to connect with Breitbart, which he ran before he became a Trump campaign strategist during the 2016 election.

Senior advisers to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Bannon walk into the White House.

Still, there is some evidence that the administration is anxious about Trump's credibility on draining the swamp, at least when it comes to transparency. This is six times as many as from one year ago.

You know who that means.

The White House waivers were vetted by White House counsel Don McGahn and Stefan Passantino, the chief ethics officer.

"The only retroactive waiver I have ever heard of is called a pardon", Mr. Painter wrote in an email.

The New York Times reported on the information the Trump and his aides were so reluctant to share.


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