Speed Reads

ethics schmethics

Here's the latest ethics conflict swirling in Trump's White House

The Trump administration has stymied a request from the Office of Government Ethics, moving to block its petition to reveal which federal employees are former lobbyists who were granted waivers to join the White House, The New York Times reported Monday. The request was made by Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics.

Shaub made his request on April 28, the Times reports, asking for a list of names of administration employees who'd received such a waiver, enabling them to accept a political appointment despite having worked as a lobbyist or private lawyer within the last two years. The rule against such appointments stems from an executive order President Trump signed in January to limit lobbyists joining government — similar to one signed by former President Barack Obama in 2009 — but the Trump administration has "hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration," the Times notes.

On May 17, Shaub received a letter in response from White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, asking him to "stay the data call" and withdraw his request. Mulvaney questioned Shaub's legal standing to demand the information in the first place, writing, "This data call appears to raise legal questions regarding the scope of OGE's authorities." In a statement issued by the Office of Management and Budget on Sunday, the administration questioned Shaub's motives, saying the nature of his request "implies that the data being sought is not being collected to satisfy our mutual high standard of ethics."

While Trump, like Obama, reserves the right to issue the waivers, the Obama administration automatically made each waiver public and offered an explanation of why it was issued. "It is an extraordinary thing," Shaub told the Times of the White House's refusal to honor his request. "I have never seen anything like it." Read more at The New York Times.