For years, Stefan Passantino has been the Atlanta attorney who has kept Republican politicians — both state and federal — on the right side of ethics laws. Now he’s set to be in charge of President Donald Trump’s team of ethics lawyers.
As head of the White House Counsel’s ethics office, Passantino will be charged with trying to smooth over Trump’s conflicts of interests. He’ll lead three other attorneys who will serve on the “compliance” team.
It’s no easy task, as the president enters office with business ties across the nation and around the world through the Trump Organization. And he’s so far refused to divest himself of his business empire, instead putting his two eldest sons in charge of the business.
Passantino is a well-known ethics expert who heads the political law division for the mega-firm Dentons. He’s run countless seminars explaining campaign contribution rules and disclosure guidelines. And he was counsel to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during his 2012 presidential run, as well as the chief lawyer for U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Roy Blunt of Missouri.
His team will include Uttam Dhillon, an attorney for the U.S. House’s Financial Services Committee; Scott Gast, the investigative counsel for the Office of Congressional Ethics; and James Schultz, an attorney for the Cozen O’Connor law firm.
In a statement, Gingrich said Passantino will “stand firm for an administration that is above reproach.” And Howard Dean, the former Democratic presidential candidate who also worked at Dentons with Passantino, praised the decision.
“I have a lot of confidence that he will be clear about what the ethical and legal boundaries are in his advice to the White House,” said Dean, a former Vermont governor, “and I appreciate his willingness to serve the country.”