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Potential Treasury Chief of Staff and the “Specific Issue” Prohibition

             ABC News reports that Mark Patterson, a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, is in line to become chief of staff to incoming Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.  The article does not say whether the Obama Administration is considering a waiver of the Ethics E.O. for Patterson.   

            Would Patterson be able to take the chief of staff job without a waiver?  According to the last LDA filing listing Patterson as a lobbyist, Patterson lobbied the House, the Senate and the “Federal Reserve System.”  The specific lobbying issues on which Patterson worked included (1) the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008; (2) credit default swaps clearing; (3) over-the-counter derivatives; (4) investment banking issues and, my favorite, (5) “general economic conditions.” 

            Under Section 3(b) of the Ethics E.O., Patterson would be precluded from participating in any of these specific issues. Unless Geithner wants a chief of staff who can only discuss sports and the weather, I’m thinking Patterson needs a waiver.    

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