White House may have violated ethics rule with retroactive waiver: report

White House may have violated ethics rule with retroactive waiver: report
© Greg Nash

The White House may have granted chief strategist Stephen Bannon a retroactive ethics waiver allowing him to communicate with editors at his former employer, Breitbart News, The New York Times reported Thursday.

If, in fact, the waiver was granted after an ethics complaint took aim at Bannon's discussions with Breitbart editors, the White House could be in violation of federal ethics rules.

“There is no such thing as a retroactive waiver,” Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubWhite House defends plans for Hunter Biden art sale Hunter Biden artwork attracts ethics scrutiny: report Stephen Hahn joining venture capital firm behind Moderna MORE, the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), told the Times. “If you need a retroactive waiver, you have violated a rule.”

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The waiver in question was undated and does not name Bannon specifically, but it would allow him to freely communicate with editors at the far-right news outlet, where he was once its executive chairman. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE signed an executive order in January that would prevent Bannon from discussing issues he dealt with in his past job with Breitbart employees for two years. But Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group, claimed that Bannon maintained communications with Breitbart editors despite the order.

The waiver allowing Bannon and others to communicate with news organizations was one of several released by the White House on Wednesday, after a bitter fight with the OGE, which had ordered the administration to make the waivers public.