The Biden administration appointed a recent lobbyist for the Palestinian government to help oversee the distribution of $250 million in U.S. foreign aid to promote Middle East peace, a move that ethics experts say conflicts with President Biden’s “revolving door” executive order.
George Salem, a Washington, D.C., lawyer, was appointed chairman of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Partnership for Peace Fund board this week. He will lead a 12-member board that will advise USAID on how to distribute foreign aid funding for “projects to strengthen people-to-people engagement between Palestinians and Israelis,” according to the agency.
Salem’s appointment comes just three months after he ended a six-year stint as a registered foreign agent for the Palestine Monetary Authority, the central banking arm of the Palestinian Authority, according to federal lobbying disclosure records. He previously served as a foreign agent for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The selection also comes one year after Biden signed an ethics executive order that is supposed to restrict appointees from participating in matters on which they lobbied within the past two years. But government watchdogs say the administration doesn’t appear to be enforcing this two-year “cooling off” period, creating an environment that invites conflicts of interest.