Ethics office promises to look into undated WH ethics waivers

Ethics office promises to look into undated WH ethics waivers
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The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has promised it will look into a series of undated ethics waivers that were released by the Trump administration this week and which allow White House staff to interact with former clients and employers.

Ten out of the fourteen waivers that were made available to the public late Wednesday are not signed and dated, and have led some to speculate that the White House violated ethics rules in the process. According to a report by The Washington Post, the OGE has said it will question those waivers.

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One of the waivers — a blanket waiver allowing appointees to communicate with media companies they were previously employed by — may have retroactively granted chief strategist and former Breitbart chairman Stephen Bannon permission to interact with Breitbart. 

Trump had mandated an ethics pledge that would keep Bannon from participating in Breitbart-related activities. 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 Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), told the New York Times earlier this week. “If you need a retroactive waiver, you have violated a rule.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer pushed on the speculation Friday saying President Trump is “the ultimate decider” on his ethics pledges.

“What we discovered was that several individuals on staff had previously worked for media organizations, and in order to continue having those discussions and advancing the president’s agenda and priorities, it was important to make sure that all individuals had the opportunity to be able to speak to the media about what the president was doing to make the country stronger,” Spicer said.