White House Counsel Gets Ethics Waiver

Posted May 8, 2010 at 9:40am

The White House is waiving an ethics requirement for Counsel Robert Bauer that would have prevented him from working on President Barack Obama’s financial disclosure forms or issues related to the Democratic National Committee, according to a statement posted Friday on the White House blog by ethics adviser Norm Eisen.

Under an executive order signed by Obama last year, presidential appointees face a two-year ban on dealing with issues involving their former employers or clients. However, Bauer was Obama’s personal attorney and counsel to the Democratic National Committee. His former firm, Perkins Coie, still represents the president on his financial disclosures and the DNC on campaign finance litigation.

“Literal application of Paragraph 2 of the Ethics Pledge would prevent Mr. Bauer from performing roles that someone in the Counsel’s position ordinarily performs,” Eisen wrote. “The Executive Order allows for a waiver when the literal application of the Pledge does not make sense or is not in the public interest, and so we are granting the waiver on that basis.”

The waiver notes that Bauer no longer has a financial relationship with Perkins Coie other than “repayment of his capital account pursuant to his partnership agreement.” Bauer will not participate in any matter that would have an impact on the firm’s ability to complete those payments, according to the waiver.