At a Glance
- Career History: Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform (since January 2009-December 2010) Deputy General Counsel to Barack Obama's transition team (November 2008 to January 2009); Attorney at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP (1991 to 2008)
- Birthday: Nov. 11
- Alma Mater: Brown University, A.B., 1985; Harvard Law School, J.D., 1991
Path to Power
Eisen is a first-generation American. His parents were Holocaust survivors who had an arranged marriage and moved to Los Angeles to run a hamburger stand. "I'm up from the bootstraps," Eisen said, "and I feel a very strong sense of obligation and loyalty to the country that might be old-fashioned."
He graduated from Brown University in 1985 and, like Obama, took three years off to work as a community organizer before going to Harvard Law School, where he met Obama. After graduating from law school, Eisen took a job in Washington with Zuckerman Spaeder, a large, national law firm. He worked there for the next 17 years, handling white-collar and congressional investigations for the firm and eventually becoming a partner.
The scope of Eisen's eithics work in the Obama White House was huge. Obama essentially gave him free rein over all ethics issues in the White House, and staffers know to call Eisen whenever they have a question regarding more than 1,000 pages of ethics regulations.
Eisen's role as the ethics enforcerearned him the names "Mr. No" and "The Fun Sponge." "Norm is not afraid to tell people what they can't do, and it doesn't matter if it's a Cabinet secretary who wants a waiver to hire somebody or a junior staffer who got a Starbucks card for taking someone on a tour," Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu told The Washington Post. "Norm applies the rules fairly, and he is willing to be the bearer of bad news."
Eisen went to Harvard Law School at the same time as Barack Obama and many other administration officials . Former White House Deputy Counsel Cassandra Butts , Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu and Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli were all there at the same time. He works in the White House Counsel 's office with Bob Bauer and his former deputy, Daniel Meltzer .
Eisen was a major fundraiser for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. He donated more than $40,000 to political campaigns in 2008, including $4,600 to Obama, $2,300 to Joseph R. Biden , and $27,350 to the DNC.