State Department Official Defends Jack Lew Amid Citigroup Bonus Controversy

Senior State Department official Jack Lew is currently under fire because of a hefty bonus he took from his former Wall Street employer just a few months before joining the government in 2009.

A financial disclosure report submitted by the State Department showed that Lew, the deputy secretary of state for management and resources who is nominated to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, received a USD944,578 bonus from Citigroup in January 2009, according to Josh Rogin.

Citigroup and other Wall Street companies were criticized by the U.S. Congress last year for giving huge bonuses to their executives after receiving bailouts using taxpayer money.

Responding to queries on whether Lew’s ties to Citigroup could affect his nomination to the OMB, a White House official pointed to the previous vetting process Lew underwent for his current position at the State Department. Lew’s ties to the banking conglomerate were only mentioned in passing during his confirmation hearing for the State Department position, the Washington Times noted.

One of Lew’s colleagues at the State Department said the deputy secretary of state fulfilled all obligations with regard to his Citigroup bonuses, Rogin says in his “The Cable” blog. The official explained that Lew disclosed all necessary figures to all parties who needed to know, including the department, the White House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The official had high regard for Lew’s ethics, Rogin notes.

“If this city and government were filled with Jack Lews, we wouldn’t need ethics rules,” the official said as quoted by Rogin.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.