Obama’s No Scandal Strategy and Other Ideas from the National Ethics Summit

I will be returning for the conclusion of the National Ethics Summit today to give a presentation to the attendees about lessons learned from my 25 years tackling corruption issues from every angle. I am calling it “Adventures of an Ethics Czar,” and it will be streamed live here.

I appeared last week on a panel with Bush Administration Ethics Czar Richard Painter, moderated by OGE’s General Counsel David Apol. You can catch the video of that panel online here. Painter is an impressive guy—a serious scholar of government ethics, one of the best in the world (ok, there aren’t that many— but he’s one of the great ones). He’s also a practitioner who had to navigate these issues during a very tricky time in the Bush Administration, including in the midst of the Valerie Plame case. (Full disclosure: CREW, which I co-founded, acted as counsel to Plame and her husband Joe Wilson.)

The dialogue with Painter was wide ranging, but one recurring theme was the relative lack of Obama ethics scandals, particularly in the White House, where (knock wood), there have been no prosecutions, no indictments, no material ethics issues at all. I am not an entirely objective observer of course, since I helped design the compliance system, but this phenomenon has also been noted by others, including political scientists. It is something I hope to look at further in my Brookings research, and I will talk about it later today as well when I help close out the last day of what has been a very interesting and important gathering.

Watch the live webcast here: