President Donald Trump has backtracked on his promise to make his staff adhere to ethics rules, and has granted rule waivers to all members of his senior staff, according to a list released by the White House late Wednesday.
The waivers allow former industry insiders on Trump’s staff to communicate with former clients on behalf of the White House on the government’s policies.
Fourteen White House staffers have been granted waivers from Trump’s Jan. 28 executive order, which Trump initially touted as stopping the “revolving door” of lobbyists working for industry and the federal government.
The White House released the list of the latest waivers on late Wednesday.
White House energy policy adviser Michael Catanzaro was granted a waiver to “participate in broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to the Clean Power Plan” and other environmental rules, even though he is a former lobbyist for coal, oil, and gas clients.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway will be allowed to communicate with “political, advocacy, trade, or non-profit organizations” even though she was formerly employed by a consulting firm that that represented those same clients.
Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist and former Brietbart News chairman, received a waiver, as did all White House appointees, to speak to the media. Ethics watchdogs expressed concern about Bannon’s communications with his former staffers at Breitbart News, a pro-Trump news website.
The White House limited its release to the waivers granted to officials working in the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President and other other offices.
The Office of Government Ethics has asked the White House to disclose all waivers issued within the Trump administration.
Other White House senior staffers given waivers are Shahira Knight and Andrew Olmem, both White House economists.
Knight is former lobbyist for the Fidelity financial services leader; the waiver allows her to communicate with former clients to “participate in broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to tax, retirement and financial services issues.”
Likewise, Olmem has been given permission to work with former clients on a variety of financial issues.
President Obama granted 49 ethics waivers in 2009, saying that the waivers were in the “public interest.”
Ethics watchdogs criticized Trump’s waivers.
“We now know who was given a waiver from their WH ethics pledge,” wrote the left-leaning group Citizens for Responsibility in Washington on Twitter. “Looks like the end of the drain the swamp illusion.”