White House Counsel Bauer granted limited waiver of ethics rules

White House Counsel Bob Bauer was granted a limited waiver Friday evening from ethics rules President Barack Obama established for his administration.

Bauer was granted a provisional waiver to allow him to deal in an official capacity with his former law firm, Perkins Coie, on Obama’s personal matters, and on issues of campaign finance.

{mosads}Norm Eisen, the special counsel to the president for Ethics and Government Reform, said that ethics rules and the public interest permitted a waiver for Bauer, whose former firm represents Obama in a personal capacity, and represented the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the campaign finance case, RNC v. FEC.

Eisen said that Executive Order 13490, which Obama signed upon taking office to establish ethics rules for his administrations, never conceived of a circumstance like Bauer’s, and allowed for an exception.

“Literal application of Paragraph 2 of the Ethics Pledge would prevent Mr. Bauer from performing roles that someone in the Counsel’s position ordinarily perform,” Eisen wrote in an official White House blog. “The Executive Order allows for a waiver when the literal application of the Pledge does not make sense or is not in the public interest, and so we are granting the waiver on that basis.”

Eisen’s official memo
provides Bauer a waiver to deal with, in an official capacity, matters “in which he previously represented the President” at Perkins Coie. Eisen also said that Bauer was such an expert in campaign finance that it would not make sense to prevent him from advising Obama on the issue, despite the firm’s representation of the DNC.

Eisen stressed that the waiver is limited to those specific issues and that an official above Bauer would have authority to make final determinations under the waiver. Eisen also said that Bauer has no financial interest in Perkins Coie beyond repaying a capital account under a partnership agreement.

Bauer is married to Anita Dunn, the former White House director of communications.

Find the entire waiver here.

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