White House Staffer Who Did Favors for Google Must Resign

McLaughlin photoIn a letter today to President Obama, I asked for the resignation of White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin.

Last week, McLaughlin was officially reprimanded for violating its ethics policies. A White House investigation found that McLaughlin, a former senior executive at Google, had repeatedly circumvented both the letter and spirit of White House ethics rules by communicating with former colleagues about Administration policies affecting the company.

The White House confirmed that Mr. McLaughlin used his personal Gmail account when discussing White House business, possibly violating federal archiving rules.

From web privacy to Net neutrality to China’s Internet policies, McLaughlin actively engaged Google’s lobbying team and at least one top company official, in at least one case contradicting the Administration’s public stance.

In that instance, the Administration was publicly stating that it was fairly and dispassionately evaluating a Court decision that had the potential to materially affect Google. Yet McLaughlin simultaneously leaked highly sensitive material and inside information to a senior Google official via a confidential email that the policy would not change.

President Obama has repeatedly claimed that his Administration would have no tolerance for unethical ‘revolving door’ behavior by officials who are supposed to be working for the taxpayers but instead are granting special access and favors to their former employers. The situation with McLaughlin is a test of President Obama’s ethics commitment.

If the Obama Administration is truly committed to the idea of strict ethical standards McLaughlin’s tenure as a senior official of the Obama White House must end.