The Slatest

White House Reluctantly Discloses Ethics Waivers Granted Secretly to Former Lobbyists on Trump Staff

Donald Trump delivers the commencement address at the commencement ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, May 17, 2017 in New London, Conn.

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President Trump has given at least 16 of his staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus and adviser Kellyanne Conway, ethics waivers to work on issues they handled as lobbyists or in their former jobs, the White House disclosed on its website Wednesday. The disclosure come after the Office of Government Ethics successfully pushed the White House to stop granting the waivers in secret, the New York Times reported.

Here are two examples of lobbyists now working on the very issues they once lobbied on behalf of (via the Times):

[A] waiver was given to Michael Catanzaro, who until January was registered as a lobbyist for companies including Devon Energy, an oil and gas company, and Talen Energy, a coal-burning electric utility. Mr. Catanzaro moved from lobbying against Obama-era environmental rules on behalf of these companies to overseeing the White House office in charge of rolling back the same rules, an activity permitted by his waiver.

Also receiving a waiver was Shahira Knight, who had been a lobbyist for Fidelity Investments and now serves as a special assistant to the president for tax and retirement policy—the same topic she had lobbied on while working for Fidelity, one of the largest retirement-investment companies in the United States…

…The use of waivers is intended to bring experienced people with special skills into the government. Both Mr. Catanzaro and Ms. Knight bring prior government experience to their new jobs: Mr. Catanzaro worked as a senior Senate aide for the committee overseeing environmental policy and Ms. Knight worked for the House Ways and Means Committee on tax policy.

“The number of such waivers expanded during the Obama administration because Mr. Obama imposed new ethics rules, such as a ban on hiring lobbyists, which could be avoided only with a waiver,” the Times notes. “With these broad restrictions in place for the first time, the Obama administration issued a relatively small number of waivers allowing exceptions. Over Mr. Obama’s eight years in office, about 16 waivers were granted for White House officials … [and] [j]ust three of those waivers for White House staff members came in the first four months of the Obama administration.”