On January 8th
, BigGovernment.com posted a blog that began
, “Outrageously, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Hilda Solis and other DOL Obama appointees appear to have blatantly disregarded the President’s Executive Order #13490 – the Ethics Pledge.”
Somebody at the U.S. Department of Labor must be reading BigGovernment.com because just 11 days after the posting, the DOL ethics officer wrote a letter to The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix and provided copies of signed “EO 13490 ethics pledges.” (See related Foundation ongoing lawsuit against DOL
for DOL’s failure to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.) Each of these newly provided pledges matched the ethics order language (more on this in another post) unlike the self-administered waivers included in the publicly distributed pledges provided to ProPublica.org and referenced in the earlier blog.
In addition, the DOL ethics officer asserted that 51 people at the DOL have signed the ethics pledge and there has been only one (1) ethics waiver issued by DOL and that was for Naomi Walker. Her Job: Big Labor Liaison (an Associate Deputy Secretary position). Her past experience includes a stint as an AFL-CIO lobbyist among others. Walker’s ethics waiver is the subject of this blog.
Walker’s ethics waiver and its accompanying explanatory memo was approved “after consultation with the Counsel to the President” expose The President’s Ethics Executive Order for the joke that it is.
The ethics officer provides a four-page memo
(probably written in a large part by the Counsel to the President) to justify the reasons that Walker must be provided an ethics waiver of Obama’s ethics executive order. My summary of the memo follows:
The Counsel to President Obama and the Department of Labor reached the conclusion that it would be impossible for Walker not to violate the Ethics Order because of her previous positions with the AFL-CIO; therefore, she must be granted an ethics waiver so that she can do the job for which she was appointed.
Wasn’t the reason for the ethics pledge to prevent appointing someone to a position where their previous employer could greatly benefit with them as a government insider?
Because of the circular logic of the waiver, it is important to note that the DOL ethics officer relied upon White House consultation. The reasons/excuses for providing the waiver as approved by the Counsel to the President are at complete odds with the Presidential Executive Order and President Obama’s claims that necessitated his Ethics Executive Order 13490.
President Obama claimed that he was creating “firm rules of the road,” yet this waiver clearly bypasses his proclaimed ethics rules:
The president then announced "firm rules of the road for my administration and all who serve in it ... We need to close the revolving door that lets ... them use their time in public service as a way to promote their own interests over the interests of the American people when they leave.
The Counsel to the President and the DOL ethics officer apparently do not believe this executive order created “firm rules of the road;” more like squishy rules of the road at best. Under the ethics rubric created by the DOL ethics waiver memo, appointing someone to a position where it would be impossible for them not to violate the Obama’s Ethic Executive Order is a legitimate reason to provide an ethics waiver.
This is what happens when Big Labor paybacks meet governmental reasoning, logic is thrown out the window.
The DOL ethics waiver and supporting reasoning clearly are not what President Obama promised during multiple campaign events and on his first full day as President as he grandiosely signed his Ethics Executive Order 13490.
The Administration's actions speak louder than words. (And, yes there is already enough material for an “Obama Big Labor Department Ignores Ethics Pledge – Part III.”)