White House Tightens Rules on Travel Ethics
Ap, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Spurred by questions raised by Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy's conduct, the White House has tightened ethics rules on Cabinet officers and presidential appointees with respect to the accepting of trips from companies they regulate.
The White House also said that it would review whether Espy had violated current rules by accepting gifts from an Arkansas poultry company with ties to President Bill Clinton.
Espy has acknowledged accepting football tickets, transportation, lodging and meals from Tyson Foods Inc., the nation's largest poultry producer. He has denied any wrongdoing, and his attorneys said the expenses had been repaid.
White House counsel Lloyd Cutler said the new ethics policy was being adopted because current regulations do not expressly forbid acceptance of travel services and accommodations when they are fully reimbursed.
The new policy would ban such gifts, regardless of whether reimbursement was made.
Exceptions will be allowed for cases where the trip is for official business purposes or when no other travel services or accommodations are practically available. Exceptions would have to be approved in advance by an agency's ethics officer.
Separately, Attorney General Janet Reno has requested the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate whether her fellow Cabinet members violated criminal laws. …