At least 16 White House staff members have been given ethics waivers to work on policy they were involved with while employed as lobbyists or to interact with former private sector colleagues, newly published documents show.
The ethics waivers were granted to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and other key members of President Donald Trump‘s administration. However, in addition to major members of the administration, Trump also granted waivers to several lobbyists—seemingly going back on a campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists working in government.
The ethics waivers also seemed to help chief strategist Steve Bannon, a high-ranking member of Trump’s administration and former executive chairman of far-right website Breitbart. The waiver allows White House aides to “participate in communications and meetings with news organizations on matters of broad policy” even with “a former employer or former client.” Bannon left Breitbart when he joined the Trump campaign last year.
Michael Catanzaro, a former registered lobbyist for oil, gas, and coal companies, was also given a waiver to help the administration push back Obama-era environmental protections, the New York Times reported.
Meanwhile, Shahira Knight, a former lobbyist for Fidelity Investments, will work on the same topic she lobbied for—tax and retirement policy—with the administration, records show.
In a statement to the New York Times, a White House spokesperson said the administration tried to urge aides to avoid conflicts and releasing the waivers was “part of the president’s commitment to the American people to be transparent.”