Waiver Madness III; They’re Baaaack …
- October 18, 2023
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.
The whole terrible tableau of Waiver Madness is too horrifying to reveal all at once. So we’ll visit with five this week. There is no peril to you, dear reader, provided you keep saying to yourself, over and over: “Recusal … recusal … recusal …”
“Sure, we could find someone else for the job, but why bother?”
Name: Vanita Gupta
Agency/Title: Department of Justice, Associate Attorney General
Potential Conflict: Lobbyist for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Notable excerpts: “Recusal would prevent Ms. Gupta from participating in the very civil rights policies that the Administration has nominated her to oversee … Were she unable to participate in matters involving the specific issue areas on which she lobbied, the Department would lack oversight over a significant number of components involved in civil rights.”
We need you to oversee the stuff we hired you to oversee, or else that stuff would have nobody doing oversight …
“She’s a lobbyist, but she’s our kind of lobbyist.”
Name: Andrea Delgado
Agency/Title: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Chief of Staff for the Natural Resources and Environment Mission Area
Potential conflict: Lobbyist for the United Farm Workers Federation.
Notable Excerpts: “Furthermore, Ms. Delgado’s lobbying activity on immigration and environmental safety protections for agricultural workers for the non-profit United Farm Workers Foundation is not the type of business-oriented prior client relationship that the Executive Order intended to reach in protecting the public trust.”
“You can’t expect the government to Google it, am I right?”
Name: Aviva Aron-Dine
Agency/Title: Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Executive Associate Director
Potential Conflict: Ms. Aron-Dine served as the Vice President for Health policy at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In that position, she led CBPP’s work on Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and other health care issues.
Notable excerpts: “Simply put, this waiver is supported by the government’s critical need for Ms. Aron-Dine to obtain the unique expert information provided by CBPP.”
“Yes, she’s a walking conflict of interest, but I’ve got a good feeling about her.” *
Name: Melisa Hoffer
Agency/Title: Environmental Protection Agency, Principal Deputy General Counsel
Potential conflict: Her former employer, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office was involved in more than three dozen cases before the EPA, some of which she may have participated in personally and substantially.
Notable excerpts: “After careful consideration of the relevant factors, we conclude that the interest of the federal government outweighs any concerns about a loss of impartiality in your ability to participate in the enclosed list of particular matters that may affect or involve the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a party and in which you may have participated personally and substantially.”
*Less than 2 years later, Hoffman quit EPA to go back to Mass. State government, seemingly shirking ethics rules on the way out.
“You already know everyone …”
Name: Alethea Predeoux
Agency/Title: Office of Personnel Management, Director, Congressional, Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs
Potential conflict: Lobbyist for American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
Notable excerpt: “The mission of AFGE is consistent with the Administration’s values.”