Caitlin Macneal · Thursday, June 01, 2017, 9:05 am
The White House on Wednesday night disclosed the ethics waivers the Trump administration has granted to former lobbyists, lawyers, and political operatives, revealing that at least 17 staffers have been granted waivers.
The disclosure came after the White House initially pushed back on the Office of Government Ethics’ push to see the waivers and make them public.
The ethics waivers exempt staffers from Trump’s executive order on ethics meant to avoid conflicts of interest. The waivers were granted to four lobbyists and six lawyers who formerly worked for the Jones Day law firm, which still represents Trump.
The Trump administration granted waivers to several other appointees, allowing them to interact with their former clients and employers.
The White House also issued two blanket waivers for an unspecified number of staff members. One of the waivers allows appointees in the Executive Office of the President “to participate in communications and meetings with news organizations on matters of broad policy and particular matters of general applicability.” This waiver would let adviser Steve Bannon communicate with his former employer, Breitbart News.
Another blanket waiver allows certain staffers to communicate with Republican political organizations, including the Republican National Committee and Trump’s presidential campaign.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that the White House worked with many staffers to avoid conflicts of interest without issuing ethics waivers.
“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. “The White House Counsel’s Office worked closely with all White House officials to avoid conflicts arising from their former places of employment or investment holdings. To the furthest extent possible, counsel worked with each staffer to recuse from conflicting conduct rather than being granted waivers, which has led to the limited number of waivers being issued.”
Kellyanne Conway, a former Republican pollster, was granted a waiver allowing her to work with former clients, and Reince Priebus was given a waiver allowing him to work with the Republican National Committee, his former employer.