Axelrod: No 'major scandal' in Obama White House

David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Obama, says that while the White House has a pretty good record on ethics it's not “pristine.”

“I'm proud of the fact that basically you've had an administration that's been in place for six years in which there hasn't been a major scandal,” Axelrod said in video that emerged Tuesday.

“I think that says a lot about the ethical strictures of this administration,” he added. 

Axelrod's comments at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics came in response to a question about New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich's This Town and the “revolving door” in Washington by which lawmakers, administration officials and government workers cash in on their experience with jobs as lobbyists.

Axelrod argued that Obama's ethics agenda when he first took oval office in 2009 has remained largely in-tact. The agenda aimed to ban former employees from working on contracts “substantially related” to the White House for two years and prohibit any lobbying of the executive branch for the remainder of the administration. 

“There have been a few exceptions, but the rule has basically been, there's been a ban on the 'revolving door' and these two-year strictures against such a revolving door,” Axelrod said. 

BuzzFeed, which first reported Axelrod's comments, notes that Leibovich writes in his book of an “unholy triplet” of Obama officials cashing in. This includes former Department of Defense press secretary Geoff Morrell going to BP, budget director Peter Orszag taking a job with Citigroup and Treasury official Jake Siewert going to Goldman Sachs.

Axelrod, a political consultant who served as Obama's senior adviser, pointed to his own experience when he left the White House in early 2011 to head up strategy for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign as an example. He noted he didn't take up other clients who may want to contact someone in the executive branch.

“Has it been pristine, has there been any sort of shading anywhere? I can't say that that's the case, that it's been pristine, but has it been light-years different than it was before? Absolutely,” he said.