“As if Donald Trump’s faux ban on lobbyists wasn’t toothless enough, Trump is now admitting he is handing out waivers to White House staff like candy on Halloween. Trump isn’t draining the swamp when he hires Wall Street execs to run point on giving tax cuts to millionaires and rip away consumer protections put in place after the financial recession — he’s filling it with bottom feeders who will do whatever it takes to benefit Goldman Sachs at the expense of the American people.” — Kevin McAlister, American Bridge spokesperson
By Matea Gold, 5/31/17
The White House disclosed Wednesday evening that it has granted ethics waivers to 17 appointees who work for President Trump and Vice President Pence, including four former lobbyists.
The waivers exempt the appointees from certain portions of ethics rules aimed at barring potential conflicts of interest. In letters posted on the White House website, the White House counsel’s office wrote that the waivers were in the public interest because the administration had a need for the appointees’ expertise on certain issues.
Among the high-profile figures who received waivers: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, who were both permitted to engage with their former employers or clients. In addition, a blanket waiver was given to all executive office appointees to interact with news organizations — a move that gives chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon permission to communicate with Breitbart News, the conservative website he used to run.
The rate at which the Trump White House has handed out waivers is far faster than that of the Obama administration, which issued 17 exemptions for White House appointees over eight years.
The waiver information — which was requested of all federal agencies by the Office of Government Ethics in April — provides a window into how far the Trump administration is willing to bend on its “drain the swamp” pledge. As a candidate, Trump vowed to take a hard line on lobbyists, which he promised would not shape his administration.
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