White House clashes with government ethics agency over waiver disclosure

Executive Branch

White House



The Office of Government Ethics isn’t backing down from a request for all waivers granted to former lobbyists and lawyers that allow them to work at the White House or in federal agencies.

The director of the office, Walter Shaub, sought information about the waivers in April, and reaffirmed in a letter on Monday that he intended to carry out the inquiry, report the New York Times, which broke the story, and the Washington Post.

Shaub’s letter was addressed to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, who had questioned whether Shaub’s office had jurisdiction to get the information. Mulvaney had asked Shaub to stay his request to all federal agencies until the legal questions were resolved.

The Times describes Shaub’s reply as “scalding.”

“The unusual nature of your letter highlights OGE’s responsibility to lead the executive branch ethics program with independence, free from political pressure,” wrote Shaub, an appointee of former President Barack Obama. “Accordingly, OGE declines your request to suspend its ethics inquiry.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January that bars former lobbyists and lawyers who are executive branch appointees from working on government matters for two years if the matters involved their former clients or issues on which they lobbied. Waivers can be granted.

The language of Trump’s order is similar to that of an order signed by Obama. Unlike the Obama order, the Trump order does not require OGE to provide a report on the ethics waivers.

The Obama administration released its ethics waivers and explanations of why they were given. Trump has not disclosed his waivers.

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