Revolving Door Continues to Spin

Revolving Door Continues to Spin

  • April 26, 2022

Two more lobbyists granted waivers to ethics pledge

Today, federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust announced the addition of two new former lobbyists to its Ethics Waiver Tracker. The waivers to the Biden Ethics Pledge continue a trend in which an increasing number of lobbyists have received waivers.

Jessica Ennis was a registered lobbyist for Earthjustice, an environmental special interest group, for several years before joining the Council on Environmental Quality, where she currently serves as Director of Public Engagement. In awarding the waiver to the Biden Ethics Pledge’s Revolving Door Ban, which is designed to prevent lobbyists and registered agents from entering government, Ms. Ennis’s lobbying work appears to have been a factor in favor of her waiver. Among the unique qualifications cited to bolster the waiver are her “vital expertise in policy and advocacy, especially with respect to environmental issues,” which “make her particularly adept at navigating the legislative and relational elements of the Director of Public Engagement position.” The waiver allows Ms. Ennis to “participate in any particular matter on which she lobbied for Earthjustice within the two years before her appointment, and in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls,” though it does not permit her to participate in “party-specific matters directly affecting the financial interests of Earthjustice, including contracts and grants.”

Gail Greenman is the Farm Service Agency’s State Executive Director for the State of Oregon in the Department of Agriculture. She was a federally registered lobbyist for the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation (OR FBF) from 2011 through August 2021, while serving as OR FBF’s Director of National Affairs. As with Ms. Ennis, the Biden Ethics Pledge’s bias toward lobbying for a non-profit was a factor in Ms. Greenman’s waiver, as was her “vital expertise in a wide array of farm issues and extensive experience with Native American and other socially disadvantaged communities.” The waiver permits Ms. Greenman to “participate in any particular matter on which she lobbied for the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation within the two years before her appointment, and in the specific issue areas in which those particular matters fall,” she may not “participate in any party-specific matters directly affecting the financial interests of the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation,” including contracts, grants, loans, litigation, and other matters.

In other revolving door news, media reports indicate Anita Dunn is returning to the White House. Dunn, a veteran of the Obama administration, previously served in the Biden White House under circumstances that allowed her to “shield her financial information from public view.” An ethics watchdog claimed that, due to the structure of the deal, “Dunn purchased the right to secrecy.”

“The number of former lobbyists appointed to powerful positions in the federal government continues to grow, despite the administration’s Revolving Door Ban,” Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust, said. “Citing the experience gained from lobbying to support a waiver is not consistent with the stated intent of discouraging lobbyists from pursuing federal service. This is just another example of why the American public’s trust in its government is plummeting.”