D.C. judge: Peter Orszag’s Citigroup salary can be made public

Then-OMB Director PeterOrszag with wife Bianna Golodryga at the 2010 state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderon . (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
Then-OMB Director PeterOrszag with wife Bianna Golodryga at the 2010 state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderon . (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

When White House budget guru Peter Orszag took that storied revolving door to a Wall Street gig in 2010, the common assumption was that he’d gotten a raise — a big one. Soon, we’ll learn just how much that sweet Citigroup gig is bringing the former bureaucrat. A D.C. judge late Wednesday rejected Orszag’s request that his finances be placed under seal in a child-support case his ex-wife is bringing against him.

According to court documents, Orszag had fought mightily to keep private the details of his income, which will be introduced as evidence in the child-support case, after the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and several media outlets (including The Washington Post) filed a motion seeking to unseal them.

But the judge sided against the former Obama administration official, saying it was “both inappropriate and untenable” to shield Orszag.

Here’s the backstory: Orszag and his first wife, Cameron Kennedy, divorced in 2006. In 2012, after Orszag began pulling down Wall Street bucks, Kennedy asked the court to modify the couple’s child-support arrangement.

A flurry of filings and counter-filings ensued, the records show, with Orszag citing a host of reasons to keep his finances out of the public eye, including the “protection of his future professional aspirations and his confidentiality agreement” with Citigroup. He also opposed making public the finances of his second wife, ABC correspondent Bianna Golodryga, claiming “her credibility as a news anchor could be damaged if her personal spending habits are disclosed to the public, thereby possibly hindering… future employment opportunities.”

Orszag’s attorney Casey Greenfield tells us that her client has no interest in returning to government service. “Peter’s motivation is to protect the private information of private people,” she said.

But that wasn’t enough to convince D.C. Superior Court Judge Alfred Irving, who said the public’s right to open proceedings trumped it all — and he concluded his ruling with a dash of populism. “Mr. Orszag appears to be of the view that he should be afforded treatment different from other parties who appear before this Court under similar circumstances,” he wrote. “The public needs to know that dispensation of justice is done consistently, no matter the socioeconomic station of the litigants who happen to be before this public institution for resolution of a dispute.”

Maybe the rich aren’t so different after all.

Orszag Opinion

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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