White House waives ethics rules to allow top staffers access to Fox News
A new ethics waiver for two top White House officials is raising questions about the propriety of President Donald Trump hiring a former cable news honchos to top positions in his administration.
"Essentially the regulation at 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502 is the impartiality regulation," Delaney Marsco, Ethics Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, told Salon. "And basically what it does is if an employee is going to be involved in some matters that might create an appearance of partiality, they can ask for an authorization and they can ask for advice from an ethics official, and the ethics official can authorize them to participate in those matters. That's essentially what this memorandum is. It's an authorization under 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502(d) that will allow Bill Shine to communicate with his former employer which is Fox."
Marsco also explained that the question of whether it was wrong for Shine to be granted the waiver is different from the question of whether he should have been appointed in the first place.
"In terms of whether or not this is 'ethical,' I mean it's definitely legal," Marsco told Salon. "Ethics waivers and authorizations are allowed. They are contemplated by the executive order ethics pledge, which is E.O. 13770, and by the impartiality regulation (obviously they have cited the impartiality regulation). Obviously it's prudent to allow the deputy chief of staff for communications... to be able to communicate with press outlets and not have to not answer questions just from one outlet."
She added, "Whether or not it creates sort of this appearance of a revolving door problem, especially given the administration's close relationship with Fox News, that's kind of a separate matter. Whether or not it was prudent to hire him is another question. But in terms of the process of issuing the waiver and getting an authorization, that's contemplated by the ethics regulation and the ethics pledge."