Revolving Door: Biden Adviser Forced to Divest Stock Portfolio, Recuse Herself from Decisions Involving Corporate Clients
A senior Biden White House adviser has to divest control of a stock portfolio worth tens of millions of dollars in major corporations.
A White House spokesman said political and communications strategist Anita Dunn must give up control over her investments and is barred from attending meetings that involve decisions pertaining to the interests of her corporate connections, CNBC reported Friday.
Dunn had been considered a special government employee and thus was not subject to rules requiring public financial disclosures in her first stint as a Biden adviser in 2021 and earlier this year, the outlet reported. She returned to the White House in May on a permanent basis and filed financial disclosures in July.
In the 93-page document, Dunn revealed her compensation for consulting services from major corporations such as Pfizer, AT&T, Reddit, Lyft and the Ford Foundation.
The Democratic insider dealt with the major businesses through the consulting firm SKDK, of which she is a founding member.
Federal oversight of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies is one area that amounts to a significant conflict of interest for Dunn. Pfizer is one of the largest manufacturers of coronavirus vaccines, which the Biden administration has made mandatory for military service and sought to impose upon many private businesses.
Pfizer’s CEO has indicated that he anticipates the vaccines becoming annualized drugs in what would be a boon for the multibillion-dollar company. Many medical experts and scientists contest this assessment, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Some of the environmental organizations that Dunn has dealt with also stand to gain from Biden’s energy policies.
The American Clean Power Association, for which she disclosed her consulting work, advocates for many of the environmentalist policies the administration has sought to implement. The Democratic insider disclosed accepting more than $5,000 in compensation from the green energy group.
The ACPA itself is heavily bankrolled by donors with a direct financial interest in green energy. As a White House adviser, Dunn would be well-suited to advance their preferred policies unless she’s fully recused from matters relating to energy.
Hillary Rosen, then the managing director of SKDK, visited the Barack Obama White House more than 30 times in his first term alone, according to National Review.
Dunn disclosed holdings between $16.8 million and $48.2 million in the disclosure document, CNBC reported.
In a Thursday statement to the outlet, White House spokesman Chris Meagher confirmed that Dunn would have to divest control from her stock holdings as a condition of her presidential employment.
She also is prohibited from attending White House meetings in which the interests of her former clients are directly discussed. This stems from an ethics pledge that Biden made upon taking office, not federal law.
Her financial disclosures apply only to transactions within the past two years, a time frame that also applies to her restrictions on attending meetings that involve her former clients.
Dunn served under the same White House job title on a temporary basis in 2021, raising questions on potential conflicts of interest disclosed in her newest financial filings.
“The ethics rules require White House officials to recuse from matters that conflict with their financial interests,” Kedric Payne, vice president and general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, said in a statement to CNBC.
“When officials have a large scope of duties and an even larger stock portfolio, sunlight is the best disinfectant,” he said.
The political strategist has worked in establishment Democrat politics since the Jimmy Carter administration, according to a 2021 CNN profile.
Her husband, Bob Bauer, served as the Obama White House’s general counsel.
Dunn herself worked for the Obama campaign and White House before becoming a Biden communications strategist in 2019.
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