About those much-touted Biden ethics rules...

Remember when Joe Biden, at the beginning of his term, vowed that his administration would be the most ethical in history?

Here's White House spokesweasel Jen Psaki, describing how it would go:

President Joe Biden is "committed to ensuring we have the most ethically vigorous administration in history, and that includes restrictions on how his image can be used. And that is something that he's conveyed publicly and privately as well," Ms Psaki said.

She was speaking in response to some naked influence-peddling by members of Biden's family.

There have been reports of top Biden aides' relatives all wetting their beaks at the Washington trough, somehow ending up with White House jobs (which on Biden's watch are the highest paid in history). 

There's also suddenly self-taught "artist" Hunter Biden's and his "art" sales, which are obvious fronts for money-laundering.

But Axios has exposed another aspect of Biden's ethics failures — in the fact that most of his Cabinet officials seem to have big-dollar side hustles, something Biden said would never happen, except that they all got "waivers."

Top Biden officials have been excused from the ethics rules President Biden boasts about so they can do work involving large Wall Street banks, a leading defense contractor and prominent national media outlets, records show.

Driving the news: At least 16 Senate-confirmed officials have received waivers to ethics laws and regulations, according to an Axios review of their federal ethics paperwork.

  • Three were excused from portions of a widely publicized ethics pledge imposed by executive order on the day the president took office.
  • Thirteen got waivers to a federal regulation restricting work that could be perceived as a conflict of interest based on past professional relationships.

These people make six-figure salaries for their much-touted selfless "public service."  And most of them need other "jobs"?

Those jobs are not 9-to-5 numbers, no, no, no, no.  They're do-nothing boardroom jobs and cash made from giving speeches.

Treasury secretary Janet Yellen makes a ton of cash from those speeches — and she's not talking to art galleries.  She gets her cash from big banks, which would have a keen interest in influencing her.

There's also Bill Nelson, a Florida retread former senator who got in on something good with Team Biden but wanted to keep his other posts, too.

According to Axios:

The details: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was excused from rules that would have barred him from working with Lockheed Martin, for which he was a paid advisory board member.

  • Nelson assured ethics officials prior to his confirmation that he would only be participating in policy matters potentially affecting Lockheed, not any procurement or contracting decisions involving the company.

Does this guy really need to work for Lockheed Martin while serving as the top NASA guy?  And of course, he'll keep all business separate, no conflict of interest at all, so just trust him.

There are a ton of these cases that Axios, commendably doing its job, has identified:

  • Six of the waivers permit officials‚ including Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra of California and EPA Administrator Michael Regan of North Carolina — to work with the state governments where they previously held senior posts.
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack still draws payments directly from the agency he leads via a program that compensates landowners who agree not to farm environmentally sensitive land. The Iowan's waiver allows him to oversee that program.
  • CIA Director William Burns is free to interact with the United Nations, where his wife works. Deputy secretary of Energy David Turk is allowed to work with the International Energy Agency, his former employer.
  • Four senior Biden officials got waivers allowing them to communicate with media outlets that paid or employed them or their spouses: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and senior State Department officials Wendy Sherman and Victoria Nuland.

It seems there are more exceptions and waivers to the rules than anyone having to obey.

None of them has thus far been caught at anything untoward, but that just shows how clever they are.  It's swamp-activity influence-peddling by the power elites — done in plain sight.  With Biden in the saddle, it's pretty obvious it's party time.  And much of the press is asleep, despite the obvious potential for malfeasance.  One wonders, after all, what kinds of exchanges these "jobs" have yielded to the fat-cat payers of those jobs, and whether those exchanges have actually been in the public interest.

Were Biden serious about his ethics calls, he'd say no side hustles at all.  But he's not.  He just wants to paint it that way.  His swampers, though, are taking their cues from the top.  And save for Axios, much of the press remains asleep.

Image: Gage Skidmore via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

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