White House Defends Axing Ethics Czar Slot

Posted August 13, 2010 at 2:32pm

The White House remains committed to transparency and accountability in government despite not replacing its departing ethics czar, Norm Eisen, who has been nominated to be ambassador to the Czech Republic, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday.

Gibbs said the decision to reassign Eisen’s job duties to other offices — White House counsel Bob Bauer will take the lead and University of Michigan law professor Steven Croley will join the Domestic Policy Council to coordinate — is not a sign of lessened commitment to ethics reforms that President Barack Obama campaigned on.

“There are a number of attorneys in the counsel’s office and an added position in the Domestic Policy Council to oversee our efforts to reform the way our government works and to ensure its highest ethical standard,” Gibbs told reporters.

The White House spokesman reiterated that the buck ultimately stops with Obama, who demonstrated his commitment to the issue during his time in the Senate, when he helped usher through landmark ethics reform in 2007, and as president, by instituting tough rules on closing the revolving door between lobbying and political jobs.

The charge of running government in an open way “does not come from a participant in the counsel’s office or a staffer at the DPC. It comes from the president of the United States,” Gibbs said.