Sen. John Cornyn noted Sunday the Senate is “not obligated” to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and Cabinet picks if they fail to provide information about their past connections to lobbying or consulting groups.
The Texas Republican on Sunday tweeted out a paragraph of a New York Times story about several of Biden’s appointees’ links to the investment fund Pine Island Capital Partners and the consulting company WestExec Advisors.
“Mr. Biden’s transition office stopped short of saying that all clients would be disclosed — and ethics rules allow incoming federal officials to withhold the identities of clients if the arrangements are subject to confidentiality agreements,” Cornyn’s tweet said, with links to the article.
In another posting, Cornyn responded to the tweet.
“Maybe, maybe not. But the Senate is not obligated to confirm anyone who hides this information,” he said.
Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, and Michèle A. Flournoy, a possible choice for secretary of defense, are among WestExec’s founders.
Both have also served as advisers to Pine Island Capital.
Watchdog groups, according to the Times, are worried that Biden officials would tailor government policies to benefit companies that do business with their firms or that the firms could attract people seeking accessibility to the Biden administration.
But Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said that possible aides connected to WestExec and Pine Island would step down if they haven’t already done so and disclose their client lists.
“Joe Biden has pledged the most ethically rigorous administration in American history, and every cabinet member will abide by strict ethics rules and abide by all disclosure requirements,” Bates said in a statement to the Times.