Update on the President's Ethics Executive Order
August 13, 2009
05:15 PM EST
Editors Note: We have another update from Norm Eisen, special counsel to the President for ethics and government reform, on the President's Ethics Executive Order:
Another update to advise that we have granted an authorization under the President’s Ethics Executive Order to two White House Associate Counsels to allow them to continue working on matters concerning President George W. Bush’s interests as a former President. The authorization is needed because President Bush’s counsel this summer joined a firm at which the two Associate Counsels formerly worked. The authorization allows the Associate Counsels, who have worked on these matters since the inception of this Administration, to continue that work—thereby preserving their expertise and government resources.
By law, former Presidents have certain interests that attach to their office as former Presidents. Historically, in order to respect those interests, the White House maintains contact as necessary with representatives of the offices of former Presidents. Emmet Flood, who is the representative handling certain continuing official-capacity interests of former President Bush, joined the partnership of Williams & Connolly LLP this summer. Two lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office who have worked on matters involving the Office of the former President, Chris Weideman and Jonathan Kravis, were formerly employed at Williams & Connolly LLP.
Paragraph 2 of the Ethics Pledge contained in the President’s Executive Order on Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel prohibits appointees from participating in matters involving their former employers for a period of two years. As a result of Mr. Flood’s move, this provision would, absent a waiver, bar Mr. Weideman and Mr. Kravis from continuing with their current work. As a result, all their work and accumulated knowledge would have to be transferred to other staff. That would be a substantial waste of resources, makes little sense and, in our view, was not the intent of the Executive Order. Thus, we granted this limited waiver.
This waiver will allow Mr. Weideman and Mr. Kravis to continue communicating with Mr. Flood on these issues. To be clear, these issues do not involve broader questions of Administration policy; they only relate to the former President’s rights and privileges in his official capacity. The waivers are further limited in that they do not permit Mr. Weideman or Mr. Kravis to work on any other particular matters involving their former firm except for those involving the office of the former President. The text of the waivers can be found here and here.