A Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr counsel in Washington who specializes in regulatory and government affairs plans to divest interests in six major U.S. companies if he’s confirmed to lead enforcement and compliance efforts at the U.S. Commerce Department.
The financial disclosure and ethics pledge from Jeffrey I. Kessler, a Wilmer attorney since 2011, were publicly posted this week by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. Certain executive branch nominees are required to submit these forms, which offer a glimpse at the compensation and benefits at U.S. law firms and also a window into a nominee’s clients.
Kessler, the Commerce nominee for assistant secretary for enforcement and compliance, reported his Wilmer salary and bonus at $681,519, an amount that would include compensation for 2016 and part of 2017. Kessler’s nomination will go to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. A hearing date has not been set.
Kessler’s a member of Wilmer’s international trade, investment and market access team. The White House said Kessler “has represented United States manufacturers in domestic trade remedy proceedings, helping them obtain relief from unfair foreign trade practices.”
In December 2016, Kessler was on a four-lawyer advisory that looked at expectations from the Trump administration on trade policy. In 2016, he contributed $1,000 to Jeb Bush’s failed presidential run. Kessler wasn’t immediately reached for comment Thursday.
China is one particular area of his expertise, according to Kessler’s law firm bio. Kessler, according to his bio, “has assisted leading U.S. companies and industry associations—especially those in innovative, IP-intensive industries—to understand and navigate Chinese trade and investment barriers.”
Kessler’s financial disclosure revealed he provided legal services to 29 companies in 2016 and this year, a list that includes major U.S. firms. Kessler advised major tech companies—including Google Inc., Apple Inc. Oracle Corp., Facebook Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.—in addition to pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies. Other companies identified included Abbott Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline plc, The Boeing Co., Visa Inc., Monsanto Co. and PepsiCo Inc.
Kessler said in his ethics agreement he would divest interests in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Ford Motor Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Microsoft Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Zimmer Biomet within 90 days of his confirmation.
At Commerce, Kessler would oversee a team of officials confronting alleged unfair trade practices and foreign trade barriers. The division advocates for U.S. commercial interests in trade negotiations. Kessler would replace Paul Piquado, who served in the role for five years. Piquado is now an independent strategic counsel, according to his LinkedIn bio.
Kessler’s financial disclosure is posted below: