In an arrangement prominent ethics experts say is without precedent and potentially illegal, the White House is referring questions for senior presidential adviser Stephen K. Bannon to an outside public relations agent whose firm says she is working for free.
Alexandra Preate, a 46-year-old New Yorker and veteran Republican media strategist, describes herself as Bannon’s “personal spokesperson.” But she also collaborates with other White House officials on public messaging and responses to press inquiries. It was Preate who responded when the Center for Public Integrity recently asked the White House Press Office questions about Bannon.
Preate, however, is not employed by President Donald Trump’s administration or paid by the federal government.
The unorthodox setup means Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, is potentially violating the Antideficiency Act, which provides that federal employees “may not accept voluntary services for [the] government or employ personal services exceeding that authorized by law.”