A senior Biden administration adviser has been told that she will need to recuse herself from consulting on a number of high profile policy issues because of her work representing major entities like Pfizer and the American Clean Energy Corporation.
CNBC reported this week that Anita Dunn, who joined the Biden administration in May as a senior adviser will also need to divest from a large investment portfolio, estimated to be valued at between $16-$48 million after the release of her financial disclosures.
The move to recuse herself from certain policy issues and divest from her investment portfolio comes after warnings from lawyers that her portfolio and corporate ties could constitute a conflict of interest.
The filings reveal that Dunn has worked for major entities like AT&T, Micron, the American Clean Power Association, Lyft, Pfizer, Reddit, and Salesforce. The filing also reveals work for the Ford Foundation, Valerie Biden Owens, and the Center for American Progress.
The investment portfolio, held in conjunction with her husband and former Obama administration lawyer Bob Bauer, has a number of individual stocks in brokerage accounts, and corporate and municipal bonds.
“The ethics rules require White House officials to recuse from matters that conflict with their financial interests. When officials have a large scope of duties and an even larger stock portfolio, sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said Kedric Payne of the Campaign Legal Center.
Two of the entities, the American Clean Power Association and Pfizer, have been linked to contentious Biden administration policies.
The American Clean Power Association describes itself as “the leading federation of renewable energy companies expediting the advancement of clean energy as the dominant power source in America.” It has often praised Biden for his stances on environmental issues.
Most recently, its CEO Heather Zichal applauded the passage of the Democrats’ “Inflation Reduction Act,” which Biden is expected to sign. She said the bill “marks the point in time when the US decided to: get serious about climate change.”
Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company responsible for one of the COVID vaccines, has also been impacted by Biden admin policies, as the president has strongly pushed for vaccine mandates for private businesses and the military.
Former Office of Government Ethics head Walter Shaub told CNBC that Dunn needed to either divest from the companies or recuse herself from issues pertaining to companies in her stock portfolio.
Initially, Dunn had avoided filing the disclosure when she worked in the Biden administration previously due to her role only as a temporary adviser. The Intercept reported in May that, because of this loophole, she had not been subject to the same scrutiny as others in the administration.
The White House has said that Dunn will recuse herself from issues pertaining to her previous work and divest from her investment portfolio.