Obama WH “cavalier” towards abuses of ethics safeguards?

posted at 9:30 am on June 11, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama came to power on a promise to change the way Washington worked and to make his White House “the most transparent ever.”  The Daily Caller reports today that instead of adhering to new standards of ethical behavior, the Obama White House has trouble even measuring up to the old standards.  Their technology office has demanded arguably-illegal discounts from vendors, for example:

Two sources say a top White House technology official, Chief Information Officer Brook Colangelo, routinely asked technology vendors for special deals based on his position as a public official.

“I heard the CIO talking to various technology vendors, saying … like, ‘You should give this to us for free because we’re the White House.’ And he actually said that to people,” one source said. A second source said Colangelo continued the practice even after having been confronted about its appropriateness.

Asking for discounts as a White House political official violates ethical rules and potentially federal law, experts say.

“You’re asking me a hypothetical because I’m not endorsing any facts here,” said Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, but “I can’t imagine a circumstance where a public official based on the fact that the person is a public official who asks a commercial business for a discount, I can’t imagine how that’s ethical under ethical rules in the White House that I know of, and it might even be worse.”

Remember how Obama pledged to keep lobbyists out of the administration?  That promise got broken in the first days of his administration, with dozens of “waivers” of the no-lobbyist rule flying around the White House.  However, Obama sternly insisted that any former lobbyists would have an impermeable firewall keeping them from engaging with their former employers for their benefit.  That impermeable firewall must be past its expiration date:

For instance, e-mails recently released by the White House show Andrew McLaughlin — a former Google lobbyist and now deputy chief technology official for the administration — e-mailing his former employer from his personal gmail account on policy matters.

On one occasion, a lobbyist for Google asked McLaughlin and Susan Crawford, then a telecommunications advisor in the National Economic Council, for a meeting on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Internet privacy policy. McLaughlin and Crawford worked with Becky Burr, the lobbyist, to set up a meeting time.

The FTC is an independent agency supposedly immune from White House meddling. While it’s unknown what was said at the meeting, Burr’s request for the meeting noted the “worrisome implications” of stricter privacy controls on innovation and said “it seems important for the FTC to have administration input on this.”

The issue is especially concerning to privacy activists like Consumer Watchdog who fault Google for its privacy policies.

In other instances, McLaughlin coordinated public relations strategy with Google employees.

It turns out that McLaughlin sent “numerous” e-mails from his personal account while at work for the White House.  He managed to bypass the White House firewall by using his cell phone to send the e-mails.  What did the Obama administration do when it discovered McLaughlin’s activities?  He received a “reprimand” for “inadvertently” bypassing the lobbying and e-mail restrictions.

Remember how Karl Rove’s personal e-mail account became a national news story?  Democrats howled that Rove was secretly plotting political strategies without any of the oversight required by law for people with White House positions.  Suddenly, bypassing the Records Act is the cool thing to do — and the Daily Caller reports that everyone is doing it now:

The source who worked in the White House for approximately the first six months of the administration said the use of personal iPhones, Blackberries and other smart phones is ubiquitous in the White House.

“A lot of the political staff have two Blackberries. One that’s issued by the government and then their other Blackberry. Which they’re using their personal Blackberry while they’re in the office to talk to other people, probably about official business,” the source said.

Are they using their iPhones for official business? “You would think so,” the source said. An “example would be somebody in the political staff texts their counterpart over at the [Democratic National Committee (DNC)] and says, ‘Hey what should we do about this?’ and the person at the DNC says, ‘Well, here’s what we’re doing.’ That’s, obviously, the worst case scenario where you’ve got the actual sort of political collusion which is strictly prohibited by the Hatch Act and then also the violation of the records act at the same time.

Opacity.  It’s the new transparency.  Or, in other words, beware of Chicago Machine pols bearing Hope and Change.


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The word you need is “Selective” You have to have an “R” after your name for it to be an ethics violation.

William Amos on June 11, 2010 at 9:32 AM

B-b-b-but HE QUOTES NIEBUHR!!!!!!

CDeb on June 11, 2010 at 9:33 AM

Ethics rules are for Republicans only.

Dems da facts.

VelvetElvis on June 11, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Personal e-mail to conduct business? But the left said that was unlawful when Palin was accused of doing it.

myrenovations on June 11, 2010 at 9:37 AM

None of this matters as long as the creases in those trousers stay sharp and the teleprompter functions.

/

Cody1991 on June 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM

It’s Boooooshes fault. His dirty chief of staff, Carl Rove, taught us how to by pass WH email accounts!

Herb on June 11, 2010 at 9:45 AM

OOOps—meant Karl

Herb on June 11, 2010 at 9:45 AM

Who are all these people? What is it that they’re so busy doing?

SlaveDog on June 11, 2010 at 9:47 AM

Silly rubes! How illogical to believe that people without ethics can violate them!

Wind Rider on June 11, 2010 at 9:48 AM

Well, he did say it wouldn’t be business as usual and there’d be “change”.

John Deaux on June 11, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Whatever gets ‘er done – apparently.

OldEnglish on June 11, 2010 at 9:54 AM

If the GOP takes the House or Senate in the Fall they will not conduct investigations.

They will wimp out. Willing to place $$ on it.

barnone on June 11, 2010 at 9:57 AM

“A lot of the political staff have two Blackberries. One that’s issued by the government and then their other Blackberry. Which they’re using their personal Blackberry while they’re in the office to talk to other people, probably about official business,” the source said.

This explains Obama’s insistence that he have a blackberry, and can’t function without one. Now…who the hell is he calling, and what kind of underhanded, secret doings is he up to? One can only wonder I suppose, and worry. Because I can almost guarantee, it’s not good, and not in our best interest.

capejasmine on June 11, 2010 at 9:57 AM

Remember when dealing woith Democrats you must maintain rigid flexibility.

Johnnyreb on June 11, 2010 at 9:59 AM

Real ethics reform would come to the White House when some one installs a blow-out preventer on Gibby’s mike.

Speaking of ethics—Pelosi considering rewriting ethics rules

By Susan Crabtree – 06/10/10 08:28 PM ET

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has privately indicated she is willing to rewrite some of the ethics rules that House Democrats implemented two years ago.

If the rules don’t fit…….

Rovin on June 11, 2010 at 10:00 AM

“Conservatives are eeevillll,” so all’s fair. It’s like a law or something….

RBMN on June 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM

Who are all these people? What is it that they’re so busy doing?

SlaveDog on June 11, 2010 at 9:47 AM

They are all political operatives doing the business of The Party on the taxpayers’ dime and time.

onlineanalyst on June 11, 2010 at 10:02 AM

Mayor Daley has to be getting nervous about all this exposure of how things work in Chicago between what is happening in DC and the Blago trial. He should have given them a weekend seminar….

journeyintothewhirlwind on June 11, 2010 at 10:02 AM

for free

journeyintothewhirlwind on June 11, 2010 at 10:03 AM

They are all political operatives doing the business of The Party on the taxpayers’ dime and time.

onlineanalyst on June 11, 2010 at 10:02 AM

Which party? The Democrat party, or the communist party? Is there a difference at this point?

capejasmine on June 11, 2010 at 10:03 AM

‘Ethics? We don’t need no steenkin’ ethics!’

GnuBreed on June 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Ethics must be based on a value system. It helps if you are a Christian and/or an American. Obuma is neither.

volsense on June 11, 2010 at 10:08 AM

Nice, the vengeful nerd frat house somehow got itself in control of the entire university. In the nation’s history has there ever been a group less qualified to control the highest levers of power?

I can only wonder how blase these people really are, if they are talking about things they shouldn’t be to casual acquaintances. “Hey did you hear about our technology to find terrorists in Afghanistan? It’s top secret so don’t tell anyone else.”

Bishop on June 11, 2010 at 10:14 AM

I seem to recall Democrats raking Sarah Palin over the coals for her personal email account… nah, that couldn’t have happened. They’d never, never be so hypocritical.

Laura Curtis on June 11, 2010 at 10:15 AM

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/06/obama_friend_who_was_subject_o.html

Kevin Johnson, the focus of IG Walpin’s investigation, honored.

journeyintothewhirlwind on June 11, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Suddenly, bypassing the Records Act is the cool thing to do — and the Daily Caller reports that everyone is doing it now:

Yeah, but they need to do it, otherwise how are they supposed to get their marching orders from George Soros?

rbj on June 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM

There should be a formal investigation asap. Get the handcuffs ready…

TN Mom on June 11, 2010 at 10:23 AM

“Laws and ethics are for thee, not for me!”
-any Democrat

search4truth on June 11, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Related YouTube parody: The Wizard of Obama

Mervis Winter on June 11, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Ethics? What ethics?

GarandFan on June 11, 2010 at 10:46 AM

Any Republicans willing to come out from under their desks and ask for investigations?

Any willing to call a press conference and list these abuses of power.

Throw the bums and Old Fossils out and replace with a younger generation whose futures and kids futures are being wrecked by the 60′s generational failures!

dhunter on June 11, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Combine an “ends justify the means” mentality with no fear of scrutiny (thank you mainstream media), and this is what you get.

justltl on June 11, 2010 at 11:19 AM

The Chigago way… Pass the boodle!!

Khun Joe on June 11, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Ethics rules are so passe, so 20th century, so Republican.

The new, super-cool HopeyChangey Audacity Administration don’t need no rules in the ‘hood–they Kick Ass!!!

Steve Z on June 11, 2010 at 11:20 AM

If ONero gets a second term, I suspect there will be a Depravity Czar.

justltl on June 11, 2010 at 11:27 AM

This explains Obama’s insistence that he have a blackberry, and can’t function without one. Now…who the hell is he calling, and what kind of underhanded, secret doings is he up to? One can only wonder I suppose, and worry. Because I can almost guarantee, it’s not good, and not in our best interest.

capejasmine on June 11, 2010 at 9:57 AM

In Obama’s case, I wouldn’t worry. He needs a Blackberry because that’s how Axelrod tells him what to say in all of his meetings.

rockmom on June 11, 2010 at 11:29 AM

journeyintothewhirlwind on June 11, 2010 at 10:20 AM

I read that earlier. We need to pen a book entitled…The Audacity of Obama. Can he have been more in your face on this?

capejasmine on June 11, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Despite his Chicago background, union ties, association with police bombing radicals and hiding of records, people believed the clean articulate black man when he promised ethical transparency. In other words, they belived his lies despite the evidence, over and over. The thinnest line was enough to dismiss all concerns over any issue during the campaign. Rarely have we seen such an adept liar or people so enthusiastic to pull the wool over their own eyes while singing his praises as they and the rest of us are lead to slaughter.

AnotherOpinion on June 11, 2010 at 12:31 PM