PPT Announces New Ethics Waivers as Revolving Door Keeps Spinning

PPT Announces New Ethics Waivers as Revolving Door Keeps Spinning

  • March 1, 2022

Number of former lobbyists, lawyers, and consultants obtaining waivers to Biden Ethics Pledge continues to grow

Today, federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust announced the addition of two new political appointees to its Ethics Waiver Tracker. The new additions include a former lobbyist who would not otherwise have been able to work at the agency to which she has been appointed.

Elizabeth A. Eurgubian received a waiver to serve as Director of the Office of External Affairs and Communications (OEAC) for the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Absent the waiver her prior lobbying work for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), “the only national association that advocates for all of America’s credit unions,” would have disqualified her from working at NCUA under the Biden Ethics Pledge. The Pledge prohibits lobbyists from working for any agency they lobbied during the previous two years.

Raina Thiele, Senior Advisor for Alaskan Affairs and Strategic Priorities at the Department of the Interior, was granted a waiver from the Biden Ethics Pledge to participate in specific party matters involving three former clients of her consulting business, each of which have significant business at the Department. The waiver for Ms. Thiele, who also served at DOI during the Obama Administration, allows her to work on matters involving the National Congress of American Indians, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, and the Alaska National Heritage Center. According to this waiver, Ms. Thiele, who has served in her current role since April 26, 2021, previously received a limited conflict of interest waiver regarding the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. The conflict of interest waiver has not been made public despite a June 2021 Freedom of Information Act request by PPT seeking waivers from the Department of the Interior. DOI has not yet provided documents in response to that request.

“More and more we’re seeing appointees to high-level positions whose qualifications include work for or representing organizations with business before the agencies they join. Then – Surprise! Surprise! – the agency discovers they are not able to do their jobs without a waiver,” stated Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “Granting waivers to those appointees with unique and irreplaceable technical knowledge, such as scientists and engineers, is easy to understand. However, in a town infamously termed the ’swamp’ because of the high concentration of special interests, granting waivers to lobbyists, lawyers, and consultants feeds the impression that the federal government is an insiders’ game, which further erodes the American public’s trust.”