Director Stephen D. Potts
Potts graduated from Vanderbilt Law school and joined his brothers law firm Shaw, Pittman, Potts and Trowbridge.
Prior to Pottsí appointment he was a successful attorney specializing in maritime, aviation and environmental law.
Then Deputy Attorney General William P. Barr a former law partner of Pottsí called him about the ethics position. Potts met then Vice President Bush playing tennis.
Upon confirmation of his position, Potts divested his stock in the law firm which was not required by law but his ethical values are so strong that he didnít want to cause a conflict of interest.
Stephen Potts was appointed Director of Government Ethics in 1990 by then Vice President George Bush. Potts had no previous experience in government at all, no background in ethics or conflicts of interest. Most people at that time thought it was a joke.
Potts was appointed because of his integrity and character as a person. He is a no nonsense type of man when it comes to his job. Potts is very low key and believes in getting the job done without a whole lot of publicity. It was stated that Pottsí diplomacy is more effective than headline grabbing. Among his colleagues and staff Potts is known as a positive communicator and an involved manager. People tend to think of him as a solid man with strong ethical values. His man concern is to keep government employees in the executive branch ethical. When asked what concept federal employees should keep in mind if they have not memorized the laws when confronted with ethical dilemmas on the job Potts reiterated then White House Counsel Bryden Grayís standards: ìYou really want to envision what it is with all the details laid out on the front page of the Washington Post.î Pottsí continuous goal as Director of Government Ethics is to give employees a degree of latitude. Itís a balancing act. You try to make sure you have standards you can be proud of. He said ìyou donít want to micromanage people lives or give a manadate to other officials that they have to micromanage people.
Pottsís also believes that all rules should be clear and precise, donít leave any loop holes, do not give people room to wiggle.
While in office Potts along with his staff have made new ethical rules and standards and they are considered to be very realistic. He expects government employees to know these rules.
Potts is not a ìpoliticianî I think he believes that most politicians do not have any real ethical values. Potts has never hired a political appointee to be on his staff and I donít think he ever will.
Potts is a member of the Washington Lawyers committee for Civil Rights Under Law.