Waiver Madness 4: Waive Bye-Bye…

Waiver Madness 4: Waive Bye-Bye…

  • October 26, 2023
The final chapter…

October is the Spooky Season, so Protect the Public’s Trust went deep into its Waiver Tracker to find some of the most twisted ethics waiver rationales ever to escape the federal dungeon.

These are the monstrous machinations that allow Biden appointees to join “the most ethical administration in history.” Here you’ll find the macabre “lobbyist lobotomies” that transform average ethics officials into rubber stamp-wielding fiends. You’ll meet logic-torturing revolving door keepers, and nefarious necromancers whose acronym-laced incantations can conjure bureaucrats from thin activist orgs and transform adversarial litigants into flustered functionaries. 

Here, if you can stand it, it’s the final installment of Waiver Madness. As always, there is no peril to you, dear reader, provided you keep saying to yourself, over and over: “Recusal … recusal … recusal …”

"Who knows more about this stuff than the guy who sued us over it?"

Name: Dr. Steven Cliff

Agency/Title: Department of Transportation, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 

Potential Conflict: was a key member of the California Air
Resources Board (CARB), which sued the federal government to reinstate
California’s waiver from federal fuel efficiency standards.*  

Potential Conflict: Key member of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which sued the federal government to reinstate California’s waiver from federal fuel efficiency standards.* 

Notable excerpts: Dr. Cliff’s waiver permits him to “participate in NHTSA’s SAFE [Safer and Affordable Fuel-Efficient] Rulemakings, and associated litigation matters.” As the document reveals, not only did CARB “participate[] extensively in the rulemaking process that led to the issuance of the SAFE 1 and 2 rules,” Dr. Cliff personally “participated in public hearings and other meetings during the rulemaking process.” In addition, “CARB was one of the petitioners challenging NHTSA’s SAFE 1 Litigation and SAFE 2 Litigation” and is involved in pending litigation involving NHTSA on greenhouse gas standards for truck trailers.

*After staying at NHTSA just long enough to burnish his contacts, Cliff went back to Cali, leaving the feds with no one who knew what all those acronyms stood for.

“Restrictions like … uh, don’t talk business during business hours …”

Name: Susannah Weaver

Agency/Title: Environmental Protection Agency, Senior Counselor

Potential conflict: Serve on Georgetown University Law Center’s Board of Visitors, which frequently engages in matters involving EPA

Notable excerpts: “In this uncompensated position, you serve as an officer or director and provide advice to the Dean of the Law Center on how to strengthen their teaching, scholarship and service and also to increase and strengthen the financial resources of the Law Center… Because the Board of Visitors appear to engage in fundraising for GULC, please note that, as a federal employee, you now have certain additional restrictions.”

“It's not lobbying if you’re the one in government.”

Name: Erika Moritsugu

Agency/Title: White House, Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Senior Liaison

Potential conflict: Lobbied on racial justice and equity issues while at the Anti-Defamation League

Notable excerpt: Ms. Moritsugu’s very limited lobbying activity on behalf of a non-profit organization is not the type of business-oriented, prior client relationship that the Executive Order intended to reach in protecting the public trust.

“Who the heck else are we gonna get to do this job?"

Name: Elizabeth A. Eurgubian

Agency/Title: National Credit Union Association, Director of the Office of External Affairs and Communications (OEAC)

Potential Conflict: Lobbied the agency for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA)

Notable excerpt: “There is a limited pool of senior level experts who have a broad and deep knowledge of the credit union industry, and an even smaller subset of these individuals have the communications skills and expertise necessary to properly advise the NCUA leadership, lead OEAC, and effectively execute nation-wide communications strategies.”

For the final chapter, we decided to bring back one of our all-time favorites.

“You are; therefore, we waive.”

Name: Elizabeth Prelogar

Agency/Title: Department of Justice, Solicitor General

Potential conflict: Former employer, Harvard

Notable excerpt(s): “You have unique qualifications to meet the government’s need in this particular matter. First, your title is itself a qualification that no other person possesses.”

Solicitor general! You’re one of a kind!

Hope we didn't scare you too much! Happy Halloween!