White House Waivers

The White House has added ten people to the list of administration officials who've received waivers from the President's policy of not hiring people with lobbying or previous business ties to the government agencies they now hold leadership positions in. The lobbyist ban was one of the first rules of the Obama administration and three days after taking office, the President waived the ban for a Deputy Defense Secretary. Officials said then the waivers would be infrequent enough to close what they called a 'revolving door policy' under previous administrations that allowed former lobbyists to return to government and steer business to companies they'd been associated with in the past.

All told, six White House officials received waivers. The new posting involves 10 people outside the White House who had previous ties to the agencies they now work in, though none were lobbyists. They include Attorney General Eric Holder, whose former law firm represents one of the former US Attorneys under investigation for the overturned prosecution of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Also included is NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who previously worked for two major contractors of the space agency. Bolden is still barred from having contact with his former companies.

Others receiving waivers include Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who provided advice to a weapons contractor, Textron; Assistant Attorney General Lanny Bruer, who also worked for Covington and Burling, the law firm representing a target of the Ted Stevens investigation; Phillip Retinger, Director of the Cybersecurity Center in the Department of Homeland Security, who previously worked for Microsoft; and Associate Deputy Labor Secretary Naoimi Walker, who held several positions in the AFL-CIO.

Officials say the Obama White House still has the strongest ethics standards in government history. The six White House and ten agency waivers make up less than 1% of the 1890 positions filled so far, and officials say only 3 times has the administration waived the so called 'ethics pledge' lobbying provision.