Questions are being raised about the large number of ethics waivers Donald Trump has granted to his White House Staff in just his first 4 months in office. The number of ethics waivers is alarming because it took Obama 8 years in office to grant that many ethics waivers. An ethics waiver allows all White House staff to communicate with the news media even if a former employee or client is involved.

A pledge to drain the swamp

In his election campaign, Trump pledge to "Drain The Swamp" in Washington. The term has long been used as a metaphor by American politicians and Trump used it to communicate his promise to bring about changes in the federal bureaucracy and eliminate waste fraud and abuse.

Donald Trump signed an executive order in January that had strong ethics rules for his political appointees which meant that Steve Bannon could not, as a White House staffer, contact Breitbart staff for 2 years to discusses issues he dealt with while he worked there.

Concerns about retroactive waivers

Top White House aides who were granted ethics waivers include White House strategist Steve Bannon, Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Some sources say that Trump may have bypassed federal ethics rules when he granted a blanket exemption retroactively and some question his commitment to drain the swamp. The waiver means that Steven Bannon is now able to interact with Breibart editors.

Bannon is a former executive of Breibart News.

Ethics complaints against White House staff

Donald Trump's stringent ethics rules did not stop his White House staff from violating them which resulted in a number of ethics complaints. Steven Bannon continued to talk with Breibart editors after he was appointed Chief White House Strategist which led to a complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.

However, the blanket ethics waiver could mean that a pending ethics complaint against Bannon for his previous discussions with Breibart may not be able to proceed. Ethics complaints were also filed against Kellyanne Conway who appeared to promote the Ivanka Trump brand during a Fox news interview.

The Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub has questioned the validity of the waivers saying that there is no such thing as a retroactive waiver.

Several of the waivers did not have dates casting suspicion about when they were issued. For a waiver to be valid, it must be issued prospectively according to a 2010 statement by Don Fox general counsel for the ethics office.