Director of US government ethics office, Trump critic, steps down

UPDATE — 7/9, 4:21 p.m. EDT: In a Sunday interview with ABC’s “This Week”, now-resigned Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub spoke candidly about his relationship with the White House after describing Donald Trump’s attempted separation from various business interests as “meaningless from a conflicts of interest perspective.”

Following Shaub’s comment, made during the presidential transition period, now-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that OGE was “becoming extremely political.”

“I think the fairly explicit threat from Reince Priebus . . . really is emblematic of how the interactions with the White House have been since the beginning of this administration,” Shaub told host George Stephanopoulos.

Shaub went out to point out that ethic rules need to be strengthened in Washington and that he’ll “have more impact” in his new job at a campaign law watchdog group, “because I’ll have a lot more freedom outside the government.”

 

The head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) abruptly resigned Thursday to take a new position with a government watchdog group.

Walter Schaub, who had raised concerns over President Trump’s maintaining some connections to his real estate empire after his inauguration, will depart the office effective Wednesday, July 19, to accept a position with the Campaign for Legal Center — a nonpartisan group based in Washington that specializes in election law.

OGE is an independent government agency responsible for establishing standards of conduct and guiding policies and guidelines to prevent conflict of interests among executive branch employees.

An Obama-era appointee, Mr. Schaub held the position since January 2013 and had less than six months remaining in his five-year term.

In a letter of resignation posted on his Twitter account, Schaub did not mention a specific reason for his departure, but did praise OGE’s staff.

In a veiled criticism, Schaub italicized the phrase “public service is a public trust” in his resignation letter.

In a brief statement responding to Schaub’s exit, the White House said it accepted Schaub’s resignation. The statement added the president would begin a search for Schaub’s replacement immediately.

Schaub gained attention for encouraging Donald Trump to place his businesses into a blind trust ahead of assuming the Oval Office and, later, for criticizing the president’s decision to turn day-to-day operation of the Trump Organization to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.

In a speech delivered in January, Schaub upbraided Trump for his refusal to follow ethics guidelines regarding control over his businesses, saying:

“His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns.”

Schaub later demanded the new administration make public ethics waivers for members of his administration.

 

[Reuters] [Business Insider] [Photo courtesy New York Times via Boston Globe]