WASHINGTON – Several members of President Biden’s White House staff have ties to companies with significant interests in the administration’s positions on cybersecurity, antitrust and other policy areas, new federal disclosures show.
The disclosures, which the White House made available upon request through an online portal, detail the assets of staff members and their spouses, stock portfolios, income, non-government positions and debts for 2020 through 2020. the time they joined government service this year.
Some of the links could represent early proof of how Biden’s management is interpreting its ethical commitment, which requires designated individuals to agree not to engage in any matter “involving specific parties that are directly and substantially related to my ex. employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts. ” As of Saturday, the White House said no waivers to the administration’s ethical commitment have been issued for White House staff.
It is not unusual for top government officials to have ties to prominent companies, as all modern administrations have turned to the private sector for top positions. President Donald Trump’s initial group of advisers and cabinet officials in President Donald Trump’s White House drew on the oil industry, Wall Street, and his personal real estate and licensing business, among other sectors.
Biden’s new disclosures at the White House particularly highlight recent ties between national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Microsoft.
Sullivan is overseeing an interagency effort to address a recent cyberattack on Microsoft’s Exchange email software, which the company says was carried out by a network of suspected Chinese hackers. The Microsoft network was also accessed in the recently discovered alleged Russian attack by at least nine federal agencies and dozens of private companies.
Before entering the administration, Sullivan, a former campaign aide to Hillary Clinton, was a member of a Microsoft advisory council from 2017 until May last year, according to his disclosure. In that role, he was paid $ 45,000 last year as part of the council’s job advising the company’s president on “key policy developments,” the disclosure says.
Responding to questions about Sullivan’s disclosure, a White House official said that while Sullivan is grappling with the national security consequences of the Microsoft Exchange hack, Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger is leading the Security Council response. National.
Sullivan has not had any contact with the company, is not involved in decisions that directly affect the company, and is consulting with NSC attorneys to comply with ethical requirements, the official said.
“These White House officials are seasoned government leaders whose past experience in the private sector is part of a broad and diverse set of skills they bring to the service of government,” the White House said in a statement. “They have returned to government because of their deep commitment to public service, their desire to help lift our nation out of this time of crisis, and their strong belief that government can work for the American people.”
Responding to questions about Mr. Sullivan’s role on the advisory council, Microsoft said in a statement that “like many multinational companies, a group of people from across the political spectrum offers ideas and advice on a variety of policy issues. national”.
Through a trust, Sullivan owns between $ 50,000 and $ 100,000 in stock in both Microsoft and Google’s parent company Alphabet. Inc.,
based on its disclosure, which uses valuation ranges for assets and income. He also owns between $ 15,000 and $ 50,000 in Facebook shares.
Sullivan’s disclosure details his work for the consulting firm Macro Advisory Partners, showing that he was paid about $ 138,000 in fees last year. Among his clients were Uber Technologies Inc.,
Lego, Aviva PLC insurance company, Standard Life Aberdeen,
Standard Chartered and a subsidiary of Bank of America Corp.
Other high-level members of Biden’s staff listed previous positions or holdings in tech companies and other companies involved in the government’s response to Covid-19.
On Saturday, the White House official said Sullivan is divesting all of his shares, which will be reflected in an upcoming government divestment certificate. He will refrain from any matter involving his former Macro Advisory Partners clients and will not have contact with those companies, the official said.
Other senior members of Biden’s staff listed previous positions or holdings in tech companies and other companies involved in the government’s response to Covid-19.
Susan Rice, who heads the White House National Policy Council, listed assets of at least $ 37.9 million.
The former national security adviser to the Obama administration and ambassador to the United Nations resigned in mid-December as a member of the Netflix board of directors. Inc.
and indicated in his presentation that he is in the process of liquidating the stock options acquired after joining the transmission company in 2018. The sale of less than a third of those options in August brought him $ 305,275.
Its portfolio includes shares of Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer Inc.
and Johnson & Johnson.
She listed stocks between $ 1 million and $ 5 million in Johnson & Johnson, while she reported between $ 15,001 and $ 50,000 in Pfizer.
On Saturday, the White House official said Rice is not involved in the administration’s decisions related to Covid-19 vaccines.
Ms. Rice listed nearly $ 638,000 in conference fees earned during 2020, including more than $ 128,000 after Biden’s election.
The Biden administration’s coronavirus czar Jeff Zients, who reported assets of at least $ 89 million, served on Facebook’s board of directors until the middle of last year. He also owned shares in the company, so his disclosure shows that he has been divested.
The White House official said Zients has recused himself from any Facebook-related matter and sold the shares as soon as he was able to do so. The official referred to public information that he left the board due to disagreements over company addresses.
Louisa Terrell, the White House’s director of legislative affairs, who reported assets of at least $ 680,000, previously served as Facebook’s director of public policy and still held between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000 in company stock as of last year. In his latest disclosure, he says he will dispose of those assets.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary and a veteran of the Obama administration, received at least $ 5,000 as a communications consultant for private transportation company Lyft. Inc.
The White House official said the consultancy took place for about six months when the company did not have a communications director and involved drafting a communications plan.
—Alexa Corse and John McCormick contributed to this article.
Write to Chad Day at [email protected]
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