Biden doles out ethics waivers at greater clip than Trump, watchdog reports

Biden doles out ethics waivers at greater clip than Trump, watchdog reports

  • March 16, 2022

Andrew Kerr, Washington Examiner

President Joe Biden pledged to lead “the most ethically rigorous administration in history,” but his administration has excused top officials from federal ethics regulations at a far greater rate than his immediate predecessor, a watchdog group reported Wednesday.

Biden’s ethics pledge and federal ethics laws prohibit officials from engaging in matters involving their former employers for at least one year after being sworn in, but those regulations can be waived if the interests of the federal government outweigh possible ethical concerns. Biden’s administration has granted at least 50 such waivers during his first 14 months in office, compared to the 73 ethics waivers granted during the first 32 months of the Trump administration, according to the report by Protect the Public’s Trust.

“At the pace it set during its first 14 months, the Biden administration would far exceed the number of waivers and decisions awarded during the Trump administration,” PPT Director Michael Chamberlain told the Washington Examiner. “These are also spread out much more widely among agencies, meaning more of the people making the decisions that affect the American public are being given hall passes on their ethics obligations.”

The terms of at least 19 ethics waivers granted to Biden administration officials have not been made public, according to a tracker run by Chamberlain’s group. While the existence of the waivers has been disclosed in other records, many federal agencies have not provided the waivers themselves in response to PPT’s Freedom of Information Act requests, Chamberlain said.

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