White House New Hires Defy Ethical Practices

President Biden is bringing back his long-term aide, Jeffrey Zients, to the White House as an unpaid employee.

Unpaid staff members are not required to file their financial disclosures. This is raising ethics concerns about the next job of Zients; he is supposed to reshape the Biden administration after the midterm elections.

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White House New Employee Violating Ethical Practices

Federal Ethics laws require financial disclosure from most staff members of the White House. However, the financial disclosure laws are not applicable to employees making less than $132,552 a year in the White House.

As Zients is not taking any compensation for his job, he would not need to file his financial disclosures, which is raising concerns among White House watchdogs.

In his new job, Zients will guide Biden to appoint new members in various capacities of the administration after the midterm elections.

While many White House staffers are leaving their jobs before the midterm, a major shakeup within the Biden administration is expected after the elections, especially if Democrats fail to maintain their control of Congress.

Reportedly, most of Zients’s recommendations to Biden would require Senate approval. If Republicans manage to win the Senate next month, they are likely to make Zients’s unpaid job more difficult by rejecting his appointees. 

Even though not disclosing the finances of uncompensated employees is as per the law, many experts have suggested temporary employees must not be given such sweeping powers to influence the working of the government.

This is due to the fact governments can easily bring corrupt administrators as unpaid employees, who can make fortunes within the White House without disclosing their financial status.

Zients to Reshape the Biden Administration

Former chief ethics lawyer during George W. Bush’s presidency, Richard Painter, stated special employees should not have the power to hire and fire people in the administration.

Painter added that making federal appointments is the job of the president under Article 2 of the American Constitution.

Likewise, Painter asserted full-time White House employees could better understand the policy needs of the present times as they spend time seeing concerns of the general public.

Painter also predicted Republican lawmakers are expected to demand financial disclosures of the special employees of the White House if they win even one chamber of Congress in next month’s midterm elections.

Special government employees like Zients are expected to be involved in conflicts of interest. Zients has worked closely to finalize the names of important officeholders in the Biden administration after the 2020 presidential election.

He led the presidential transition for Biden, after which he was hired as a coronavirus response strategist in the White House. 

In 2021, Zients was reported as the richest employee of the Biden administration when he was leading the White House COVID response team.

Zients’s previous financial record suggests he may not be the perfect person to enjoy the exemption from filing financial disclosures.

As per the reports, Zients doubled his wealth since he started serving in the Biden administration as an employee of the Office of Management and Budget.

This article appeared in Right Wing Insider and has been published here with permission.