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Ethics Waivers Missing from White House Website

A White House web page that says it will report appointees who have been granted waivers to an Ethics Pledge has no posting as of March 10.

A January 28 executive order, “Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees” requires full-time political appointees to sign an Ethics Pledge that is similar to President Obama’s Executive Order 13490.

The new EO differs in two important ways from the Obama EO. The Obama EO allowed the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in consultation with the Counsel to the President to grant waivers to the Pledge by certifying "in writing (i) that the literal application of the restriction is inconsistent with the purposes of the restriction, or (ii) that it is in the public interest to grant the waiver." The Trump EO simply says that the President may grant a waiver.

Second, the Trump EO drops the Obama EO requirement for an annual public report on the administration of the pledge and the EO.

The new EO bans White House appointees who were registered lobbyists from participating in any related matters (Section 1, item 7).

The Independent reports that the President has hired three lobbyists who apparently do not meet that criterion.

One appointee, who worked on retirement and tax issues, is now working in the White House as special assistant for tax and retirement policy. Two appointees who lobbied on energy industry matters are advising the President on domestic and international energy and environmental policies.

The White House website has a page for Ethics Pledge Waivers Released by the White House, which says that "Ethics pledge waivers will be published as they become available." None have been posted as of Mar 10, 2017.

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