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Federal Government's Top Ethics Watchdog Resigns

by Countable | 7.6.17

What’s the story?

The New York Times reports that Walter Shaub, Jr., head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), is resigning before the end of his term in office. Shaub has clashed repeatedly with the current administration over conflict-of-interest concerns. He is planning to leave for a position with a nonpartisan advocacy group that will allow him to more freely advocate for ethics reforms.

Why does it matter?

The Office of Government Ethics oversees the federal government’s vast ethics network:

"It is the job of the ethics office, a creation of a post-Watergate Congress, to work with a web of ethics officials at each agency to help those entering the government sidestep potential conflicts. The office guides each administration’s political appointees though financial disclosure requirements and creates agreements to restrict participation in deliberations over topics they handled for paying clients.”

By leaving ahead of his original January term expiration, Shaub hands control of the OGE to a president who, along with his administrative appointees, has raised repeated ethical questions.

Shaub first questioned potential conflicts of interest within the administration when he made public statements advocating that President Trump divest from all of his business holdings before the inauguration. He also was found to have directed employees to tweet support for Trump’s divestiture, despite Trump not having taken those steps. He later suggested disciplinary action when White House advisor Kellyanne Conway advocated for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line during an interview. The administration ignored both recommendations.

His office also insisted on a White House response to a request for ethics waivers issued to multiple administrative appointees. At first the White House tried to deny the requests, but eventually submitted the requested waivers, some of which were unsigned and undated or offered waivers retroactively.

The White House and Republicans have maintained that Shaub, an Obama appointee, was politically motivated in his challenges to President Trump and his administration.

Any nominee to replace Shaub will have to be approved by the Senate. Democrats will likely use hearings to raise more public questions about what they see as ethics violations by the President and his administration. Some Republicans may see it as an opportunity to push back, while others may see it as an opportunity to distance themselves from administrative scandals.

What can you do?

Reach out to your representatives and tell them your answer to this question: How important is nonpartisan ethics oversight to the proper functioning of government and your confidence in it?

Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(113)
  • Jennifer
    07/07/2017
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    What a shame. All the ethical people are bailing out. Who will try to curtail the unethical and even criminal behavior of this corrupt administration? It's like a mob family reality show only this is our country and our republic. It's not entertaining in the least.

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  • SouthernGal
    07/07/2017
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    I can't say that I blame him. This administration is the most corrupt we have ever seen in the US and congress refuses to do its job in calling a halt to it.

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  • Mark
    07/07/2017
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    There needs to be a "sheriff" in town. With this departure, there is the risk that the President will seek the equivalent of the town drunk, who lets him do as he pleases, as the replacement. I urge my representatives to show some spine and really vet the nominee, not just let another fox inside the henhouse.

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  • Dawn
    07/07/2017
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    Non-partisan ethics are a basic tenet of democracy. It's pretty darn telling when the head of the OGE resigns because he can make more of impact elsewhere! I knew we were in trouble when one of Trump's first moves was to try to abolish the whole ethics office. I guess I needn't have worried, as I have been aghast and appalled at all the times he and fellow Republicans have ignored political protocol, long standing tradition, the Constitution and Human Morality! Standards are so low, I expect almost anything to happen!

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  • Thomas
    07/07/2017
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    There is little doubt that the White House will take a great interest in this position (once they get to it}. Given that they came up with Sessions, Pruett, Perry, Ross, DeVoss, Price, and others of the same malign ilk, and given that Mitch McConnell will take a major role in establishing his version of a moral compass, we are in deep trouble. As your constituent I would urge you to take a special interest in finding a candidate with intelligence and a moral backbone to fill a position that will likely only become more and more important as time goes on.

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  • Mike
    07/07/2017
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    I would too. People in this country elected a liar and a person who is ethnically challenged, and who cares? He lied when he said he would separate his business interests and put them in a blind trust. Having his kids run them is hardly a blind trust. He jets off to his golf courses on weekends charging the secret service for rooms and golf carts. He rented out a whole floor to the secret service while Melania stayed at Trump tower for 6 months. Hardly a outcry at all for all these things. This guy resigning is his frustration at this type of in your face ethics violations.

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  • Elizabeth
    07/07/2017
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    I am sorry to see that Walter Shaub Jr. had resigned as head of the office of Government Ethics. Mr. Shaub has done heroic work representing the needs of the American people in the face of absurdist double speak laden obstacles created for him by the Trump Administration. Because of the corrupt and secretive nature of that Administration, it is imperative that Mr. Shaub's replacement is a person of unimpeachable standards with the courage of a lion. Please hold whomever is appointed to the highest standards.

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  • PLD
    07/07/2017
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    There have been "ethically challenged" Presidential Administrations before but, not in a century to the extent of this administration. What makes it so dangerous to this country is the extent of the "ethically challenged" in the United States Congress who refuse to place allegiance to the country above that to the Republican Party where its' majority rules both houses. The U.S Constitution's system of checks and balances can only be effective when patriotism rules over all else. We can only pray that that love of country will awaken before it's too late.

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  • Joanne
    07/07/2017
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    This is the most ethnically challenged administration in history. Never before have so many made so much money in public office, shafting the public for personal gain. It must be stopped!!! Anyone this administration chooses to be in any position needs to be vetted and re-vetted.

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  • Elaine
    07/07/2017
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    Ethics chair resigns! Trump must be made to obey the Constitution and federal laws enough damage has been done already. Congress must take action now!

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  • Colleen
    07/07/2017
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    With Walter Shaub, head of the OGE resigning who is going to stop this lying, anti-American value, malignant, law-breaking and ethic-less President and his administration! All the ethical people are abandoning the ship leaving the rats behind! I'm asking my representatives to step up and stop this administration from irreparably harming this country! Take a look at the 25th Amendment! Impeach Trump before it's too late. WE are behind you. But we're not behind inaction!

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  • Dennis
    07/07/2017
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    If Trump had a shred of honor and integrity, he would resign immediately. But he's in the Presidency mostly for himself and his family. As for the Republicans, their unwillingness to impeach him shows their devotion to party over country.

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  • Vanessa
    07/07/2017
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    If he is leaving to go to an organization that can actually bring some type of charges against these crooks, more power to him!

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  • Brian
    07/07/2017
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    It is testament to how bad things have gotten when the very person meant to enforce ethics is leaving office cause of the level of unethical and corrupt actions by the current administration...

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  • Sngrlittle
    07/07/2017
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    When ethics watchdogs in DC continue to resign, it might be a good idea for Congress to pay attention. If this administration is so corrupt that ethical men and women can't continue working for them, don't you think it is time to take a really close look at the administration? Stop putting party over country. Please do the right thing and wake up.

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  • JaredThePoet
    07/07/2017
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    Losing an important key player in the watchdog role is huge at a time like this. Unfortunately, when your president totally ignores conflict-of-interest concerns, I understand why he's leaving. I'm asking that my representatives do all that they can to make sure what Trump does is in line with the law and with ethics. That job falls on you now.

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  • Patty
    07/07/2017
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    We need someone very strong to replace Mr. Shaub. Ethics oversight is more critical than ever.

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  • Erin
    07/07/2017
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    There is little doubt that the White House will take a great interest in filling the position with someone who wants to destroy the very office of which they would be head. Given that they came up with Sessions, Pruett, Perry, Ross, DeVoss, Price, and others of the same malign ilk, and given that Mitch McConnell will take a major role in establishing his version of a moral compass, we are in deep trouble. We need someone with intelligence, who can be seen as non-partisan, and has a strong moral backbone to fill a position that will likely only become more and more important as time goes on. Trump continues to make money off his office like no one before him, we need the coming nomination hearings to shed light on his opportunism and end his money-making trips to his “Southern White House.”

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  • Wayne
    07/07/2017
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    He is quitting because he thinks the president is corrupt! The biggest threat to our country is the president.

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  • Debbie
    07/07/2017
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    We are in a constitutional crisis. The GOP and this administration has many ethics violations. Our country is a hot mess and we are no longer free.

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