“It’s vital that he not serve as a big business channel to the president in the way Daley did,” Public Citizen’s Robert Weissman said in a statement. “It’s long past time for the Obama administration to abandon its unrequited affection for Wall Street and corporate America.”
In 2010 Mr. Lew was forced to amend his personal financial disclosure filings after a Washington Times report raised questions about his eligibility for a nearly $1 million bonus from Citigroup weeks after the company was bailed out by taxpayers.
Mr. Lew, who was serving as deputy secretary of state at the time, amended one of his ethics filings. He had originally reported leaving his Citigroup job Jan. 5, 2009. Ten days later, Citigroup paid Mr. Lew a bonus of $940,000.
Such a timeline posed troublesome questions for Citigroup and Mr. Lew, Mr. Obama’s nominee to replace Peter R. Orszag at OMB at the time. Under Citigroup policy, only current employees are entitled to bonuses.
When questioned by The Times about whether Mr. Lew received an exemption from the company’s policy, administration officials said Mr. Lew left Citigroup on Jan. 16, 2009 — not 11 days earlier as he originally reported on his ethics form.
Mr. Lew’s ascension to White House chief of staff leaves a power vacuum at OMB. Mr. Obama has yet to name a successor to Mr. Lew, and Republicans on Capitol Hill are already taking aim at his deputy, Heather Higginbottom, who is next in line to oversee the office.
Ms. Higginbottom assumed her role as Mr. Lew’s deputy in October after the Senate blocked her nomination for 10 months. Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican and the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, took particular exception to Ms. Higginbottom during her confirmation hearing, assailing her lack of prior budget experience.
Before joining OMB, Ms. Higginbottom was a deputy policy adviser to Mr. Obama and served as a policy director for his campaign.