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Ethics Requirements are Too Daunting for Trump Nominees

by Countable | 7.20.17

What’s the story?

Every modern president has advanced nominees for political posts that had to drop out, but the Trump administration is on course to set a record. According to a report by Politico, the administration has had difficulties retaining nominees because the applicants are "increasingly frustrated by the high cost and huge time commitment required to meet the government’s ethics and conflict-of-interest rules."

Why does it matter?

Barack Obama withdrew five nominations, George W. Bush pulled three and Bill Clinton yanked four within the first six months of their presidencies. To date, President Trump has withdrawn five nominations. Two more individuals dropped out of the process before they were formally nominated. According to sources, Politico maintains "at least a half-dozen other not-yet-announced candidates for administration jobs have quietly dropped out behind the scenes."

President Obama had one particular nominee, Penny Pritzker, a billionaire who was nominated to be Commerce Secretary, who presented real challenges to ethics officials because of the vastness of her holdings.

The Trump administration’s nominees include dozens of wealthy individuals with similar obstacles as Pritzker. Philip Bilden, who dropped out after being announced as the nominee to head the Navy, cited the complications of the vetting process and the financial costs to "his family’s private financial interests" as reasons for dropping out:

"[A]fter an extensive review process, I have determined that I will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family's private financial interests”

Some argue that the problem is inappropriate targeting of the administration’s nominees by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), that oversees the vetting. Politico quoted a lawyer who has worked with several nominees:

"I’ve heard this from people, as senior as you can get, that OGE is out to get us. They are very conspiratorial when it comes to all of these things. But that’s just not how it works in government."

A former government ethics lawyer stated, in contrast, to Politico:

"This is written into statute. It’s not OGE that makes you go through this. It is burdensome, don’t get me wrong. But this administration isn’t being treated worse or better."

What can you do?

Do you think nominees are dropping out because their financial holdings are too complicated to easily mesh with ethics expectations of government service? Or do you think they are being held to a higher standard than previous administrations’ nominees by the Office of Government Ethics?

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

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(74)
  • Sharon
    07/20/2017
    ···

    As a minor federal employee I had to undergo an extensive background investigation. At that point I had worked for the federal government more than 35 years. And all of us had to follow extensive ethics codes of conduct as well. No I don't think nominees of the present administration have been subjected to unfairly rigorous standards. It's what happens in the public sector.

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  • Debbie
    07/20/2017
    ···

    I do not think this administration is being treated unfairly, ethics are very important in our system. If anything I think some of 45 appointees have not passed the ethics requirements, including 45 and his family!

    Like (41)
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  • Scott
    07/20/2017
    ···

    Nobody is treated unfairly by the Ethics Committee and if they don't feel like they can follow through then they should drop out. Some people are even unethical and still in office like DeVos. I think the Ethics Committee needs to be harsher. More qualified people need to run our country, not more wealthy. Yes, I'm targeting Trump's incapability to make decisions for the greater good of the World and Nation, and not just his pockets.

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  • Leo
    07/20/2017
    ···

    If the nominees can't pass muster on the ethics guidelines that previous nominees have, better nominees should be chosen.

    Like (22)
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  • Jeanne
    07/20/2017
    ···

    If after selling all your COIs and resigning from alL BODs, you still can't tell if you have COIs, time to resign or withdraw. No one in political office should have ANY COIs, as in you should have zero. I don't believe disclosure is sufficient at this level. Based on this, 45 and everyone in his clown car needs to be removed from office. We deserve a new election.

    Like (17)
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  • Marie
    07/20/2017
    ···

    The Ethics Committee is there for all the right reasons . Trump and his nominees show laziness and no commitment, maybe too many "skeletons " in the closet. All they want to do is rush to get horrific bills thru and behind closed doors, no bipartisan to slow them down. The GOP just keep proving the lack of transparency or consideration for what the American people need or want thus continuing to take away the democracy our country stands for. Just more lies and corruption

    Like (12)
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  • Randi
    07/20/2017
    ···

    I think the rules are the rules and should be held high. I believe they're being held to the rules. If politico says one thing and the lawyer for the government says another, my common sense says, ummmm, listen to the government, maybe not politico.

    Like (8)
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  • Gail
    07/20/2017
    ···

    There should be zero conflict of interest! I have doubts how a nominee like DeVos ever made it through. Are the standards high enough? ZERO Conflict of Interest!

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  • Deirdre
    07/20/2017
    ···

    I think they are dropping out because ethically they should not be doing the job

    Like (6)
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  • Joanne
    07/21/2017
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    The ethics requirement for government service should be very high and very daunting. This mandate should never stop or be changed. If anything, I see now that it should be made to have more stringent rules. As we have seen with the trump administration, when it comes to ethics and government, there are to many loop holes. We need to fill up those holes so what is going on can never happen again.

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  • Amy
    07/21/2017
    ···

    It's a sad day for democracy when so many nominees are so filthy rich that they either aren't willing or are unable (or both) to meet the requirements to SERVE the PUBLIC (vs their own interests). They are too out of touch to serve effectively anyway. Nonetheless, the ethics standards should not be modified to mollify the wealthy at further risk of harm to regular folks who, at the very least, deserve an ethical lack of representation.

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  • Rodney
    07/20/2017
    ···

    I do not think the Trump administration nominees are held to a higher standard. The rules are the rules and should be held high. If they cannot meet the criteria, they do not have a service mentality and do not belong in the government. I do think a significant portion of them do not know what ethics are.

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  • Marilyn
    07/20/2017
    ···

    It's too daunting for quality and character of the people Trump surrounds himself with and for who he is. The ethics requirements are not too rigorous rather the nominees come with questionable, compromised ethics and integrity.

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  • Brian
    07/21/2017
    ···

    Being that trump is nothing but a corrupt vile sack of @&$@&$ should it be surprising that his nominated appointees are just as corrupt and worthless as himself

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  • Kathy
    07/21/2017
    ···

    I don't believe the ethics requirements are daunting enough for this administration. With 45 in office and all that's happening there should be a hold put on everything until after this investigation. Both committees need to do their jobs at a faster pace and made sure 45 cannot fired Mr. Robert Mueller.

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  • Lisa
    07/20/2017
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    It's ridiculous for anyone to think this administration is being held to any different standard than any previous administrations. The OGE rules are strict and they should be. If nominees can't or don't want to adhere that is their choice

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  • NoHedges
    07/21/2017
    ···

    If anything I would like to see every single Trump nominee both current and past undergo a independent ethics investigation and vetting, followed by every other member of of the federal government and then trickle down to the state level officials. This is one trickle down policy I believe Americans can support.

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  • Christopher
    07/21/2017
    ···

    If the Trump Administration cannot nominate individuals free from conflicts of interest then it cannot serve the benefit of the people. It is time to consider removing this administration and replacing it with competent leadership.

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  • Carol
    07/20/2017
    ···

    Do I think they're being held to a higher standard of ethics? A few of them seem to hold themselves to a standard. But the others? Trump himself? As far as I can see they're not being held to ANY standard of ethics. And therein lies the problem.

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  • Sandra
    07/21/2017
    ···

    What happened to "extreme vetting"? It's important for immigrants but not for the people who will be in high level government positions and who's decisions will effect all our lives? This administration is being put through the exact same process as all previous administrations, they're just finding more conflicts of interest and that the cost of public service is not worth the cost to their personal wealth and business dealings.

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