Spouses Put Obama's Lobbying Rules to Test

President-elect struggles with ethical promises
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2008 10:40 AM CST
President-elect Barack Obama introduces former Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle as his Health and Human Services Secretary nominee, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008, during a news conference in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(Newser) – The spouses of some of Barack Obama’s top appointees are lobbyists, the New York Times reports, presenting a test to strict ethics policies the Democrat pushed on the campaign trail. Health Secretary-designate Tom Daschle’s wife, Linda, is one of Washington’s top aviation lobbyists, and reported energy-czar pick Carol Browner’s husband heads a lobbying firm with energy clients.

It’s a touchy issue, one ethics expert said, because “a spouse shouldn’t be disenfranchised” because his or her partner gets a government gig. But a transition spokesman says Obama officials will strive to avoid conflicts of interest. Linda Daschle will leave her current firm and found a new one devoid of health-industry clients, while Browner’s husband will likewise stop accepting energy-related work if his wife is indeed named energy czar.