Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday, "The bar that we set is the highest that any administration in the country has ever set."
During a briefing filled with questions about Tom Daschle's decision to withdraw from consideration to be Health and Human Services secretary, Gibbs pointed to experts who describe the administration's ethics rules as the strongest in history.
He also said those experts recognized that Obama would need to make exceptions to his pledge to run an administration free of former lobbyists.
Obama's choice to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department recently lobbied for military contractor Raytheon. And his choice as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, lobbied through most of last year as an anti-tobacco advocate.