The job of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ chief information officer is obscure but mighty, with the ability to dictate technology and cybersecurity policy for one of the largest workforces in the federal government.
Since late 2021, that power has been wielded by Kurt DelBene, whom President Joe Biden tapped for the role because of DelBene’s long career in tech as an executive at Microsoft.
But DelBene has not fully disentangled himself from his past as a powerful Microsoft honcho, HuffPost has learned: Since his confirmation, he has held on to roughly $15 million worth of future grants of Microsoft stock, even as Microsoft and its competitors vie before his department for massive government contracts.
For an appointee to keep such a massive financial stake in a company doing business with the government is normally forbidden by conflict of interest law. But in this case, according to a waiver reviewed by HuffPost, the Biden administration granted DelBene a broad exception because DelBene elected to sell the stock as it vests to an irrevocable trust that benefits the DelBenes’ two adult children.
Their mother (and DelBene’s wife) is Rep. Suzan DelBene (D), whose district includes Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters and who chairs a large House caucus of moderate, corporate-friendly Democrats called the New Democrat Coalition.
“This is extraordinary,” said Walter Shaub, who runs the Project on Government Oversight’s ethics initiative and who…