Ethics waiver lets AG probe lawyers in Stevens case

Posted: Sunday, September 06, 2009

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder has received an ethics waiver to investigate government lawyers who prosecuted former Sen. Ted Stevens, the White House disclosed Friday.

Holder needed a waiver from President Barack Obama's conflict-of-interest rules because his former law firm represents one of the Justice Department attorneys whose conduct in the Alaska Republican's corruption case is under review. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who used to work at the same firm, received a similar waiver.

Stevens was convicted last year of failing to disclose gifts that included renovations at his Alaska home. A judge threw out the case earlier this year, saying prosecutors withheld evidence that might have helped Stevens at trial.

Deputy Attorney General David Ogden also received an ethics waiver to take part in the prosecutor inquiry. Ogden's former law firm, for which his wife still works, also represents a lawyer under investigation.

Holder, Breuer and Ogden and his wife have had nothing to do with the law firms' representation of the prosecutors, the waivers say.

Those waivers were among 10 disclosed Friday by the White House. Among the others:

• NASA Administrator Charles Bolden received a limited waiver that lets him take part at the policy or program level in matters involving two companies with which he had relationships, SAIC and GenCorp, if the issues rise to his level. Bolden, a former astronaut, was an SAIC consultant and a GenCorp director. Bolden must stay out of contract decisions involving the companies and out of SAIC- or GenCorp-specific issues in which he was involved when he worked for them. He cannot meet one-on-one with either company.

• Philip Reitinger, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's choice to head the National Cybersecurity Center, can take part in matters directly related to his former employer, Microsoft Corp.

• Naomi Walker, a Labor Department associate deputy secretary, received a limited ethics waiver to communicate with her former employer, the AFL-CIO, where she directed state government affairs. Under the waiver, Walker can participate in general outreach to unions but can't take part in an AFL-CIO-specific matter for two years.

• Ash Carter, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, can get involved in matters related to Textron Inc., for whom he had been a consultant.

• Margot Rogers, a senior counselor to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, can participate in issues involving her former employer, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose activities include education.

• Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams can take part in events involving the National Peace Corps Association, on whose board Williams used to serve.



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