Trump names friendlier ethics office director, avoiding Senate approval process

President Trump appointed long-time government attorney David Apol to lead the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) on Friday.

A position he will serve on a temporary basis, Apol, who has served in various roles in government in his 30-year career, had until recently held the position of OGE general counsel.  He has served in the general counsel role since 2014.

Mr. Apol can serve as the interim OGE director for a maximum of 210 days and will not be required to endure Senate confirmation hearings.

In a statement on the OGE website announcing the elevation to acting director, Apol said he “is honored to continue his 30 years of service to the ethics community.”

Mr. Apol will take over for Shelley Finlayson, who stepped into the position after Walter Schaub resigned in early July.

Mr. Schaub, who tendered his resignation on July 6 effective Wednesday, blasted the appointment of an interim director in a statement on Friday.

“It’s unfortunate that the White House decided to play politics with the interim director role,” read Schaub’s press release. “If they have someone they like, they should formally nominate that person to be permanent director. This sort of political interference creates the appearance that the White House may be hoping to engineer looser oversight by reaching down and leapfrogging a career employee over his own supervisor temporarily.”

Mr. Schaub added under OGE rules, Finlayson, OGE Chief of Staff and Program Counsel, should have been appointed to the role. He later told CNNMoney that “David’s [Apol] approach to interpreting ethics rules is looser than Shelley’s. . . .  (Trump) should formally nominate that person so the Senate can ask the nominee how he would address the administration’s ethics problems.”

A graduate of Wheaton College and the University of Michigan Law School, Mr. Apol was Chief Counsel for Administrative Law at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Counsel for the Department of Labor’s Ethics Program from 1992 to 2000, and as a Counsel for the Senate Ethics Committee between 1987–1992.

Prior to government service, Mr. Apol served in the U.S. Army as  a Judge Advocate General Officer.

 

[The Hill] [CNN Money] [Photo courtesy Gary Hershorn via ZUMA Wire/Mother Jones]