As far as the White House is concerned, it’s case closed for Greg Craig’s newest legal venture representing Goldman Sachs against the Securities and Exchange Commission. Administration spokesmen brushed aside questions about whether it was improper for Goldman to hire Craig, who served as Obama’s chief counsel for nearly a year before leaving due to the handling of the Guantanamo Bay closure.
The president’s ethics rules ban any former staffers from working on issues that may conflict for two years after they leave, and Craig falls squarely under that rule.
Reporters on Air Force One this afternoon asked deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton whether the move was a violation of the president’s revolving door ethics policy. Burton said the White House wasn’t consulted about the position and declined to offer any hints as to how Obama feels about Craig’s project.“When the President came to office he was serious about making sure there was no revolving door for lobbyists coming in and out of the White House. And as a result, he put in place some of the toughest rules the executive branch has ever seen in the history of our country to make sure that that sort of activity couldn’t happen,” Burton said.
“The bottom line is that if you work at the White House you can’t lobby for two years after you leave the White House. And I assume that people who leave the administration know those rules and are following those rules,” he said, adding that Obama will make sure people do.
The White House says because they weren’t involved in the SEC’s independent investigation into Goldman they won’t have any involvement with Craig. Beyond that, the new Obama administration rules are that any former West Wing employee can’t appear before any part of the official Executive Office of the President on behalf of any client for two years.