The White House is preparing to post to its website information about waivers it has granted to ex-lobbyists working in the president’s office. Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters says the information will be available before the Thursday deadline set by the Office of Government Ethics. A letter Friday from the Office of Management and Budget says the rest of the executive branch _ departments such as Treasury, State and Defense _ also will comply.
Similar information was shared with the ethics office during the Obama administration. OGE Director Walter Shaub had asked President Donald Trump to continue that tradition, formally making a request last month. As part of Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington, the president continued an Obama-era two-year prohibition of lobbyists and lawyers hired into the executive branch from working on “particular” government matters that involved their former clients.
Reports, including one by The New York Times and the investigative journalism venture ProPublica, noted that some new Trump administration employees appeared to be working in government on the very same issues they had once tackled as lobbyists _ raising questions about how many waivers have been granted so far. In his letter, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney writes that Shaub misunderstood an earlier letter in which he’d asked for more time. Mulvaney writes that he had wanted to explore legal issues connected to what he said was a broad and unusual request for information. “Put another way, our concern was, and is, protecting the process related to the data call,” Mulvaney writes. “We have no objection to the substance of the call.”
OMB itself has not issued any exceptions to the lobbyist rules set by the Trump administration, Mulvaney writes in the letter. Earlier this week, Shaub had forcefully declined Mulvaney’s initial request for a “stay” of the data call. “OGE is exercising its authority and independence appropriately,” Shaub noted in a letter to Mulvaney on Monday.