Resignation of top US ethics official calls attention to Trump’s unresolved conflicts


Walter Shaub, director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, has resigned, saying the rules need to be tougher. His term would have gone through January 2018. Shaub will join the Campaign Legal Center to work on ethics in government issues.

“There isn’t much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation,” Shaub told the New York Times. “O.G.E.’s recent experiences have made it clear that the ethics program needs to be strengthened.”

In his resignation letter to the President, Shaub notes that “public service is a public trust. ”

We couldn’t agree more.

As we said in January, President Trump’s “transparency theater” of disclosure failed to address the unprecedented conflicts of interest he brought to the White House.

Shaub’s resignation should be taken as a Bat Signal to Members of Congress who, despite evidence of hundreds of unresolved conflicts of interest around the world, have been far too reticent to oversee ethics in government or threats to transparency under the Trump administration. Instead of doing oversight, Members of Congress threatened Shaub for doing his job.

Ethics inquries at OGE soar. Source: The Office of Government Ethics Credit: Brittany Mayes/NPR

This resignation, unfortunately, may weaken the work of a crucial federal agency that has been overwhelmed by ethics requests from the public and addressing the complex finances and associated conflicts from Trump’s wealthy nominees. The Office of Government Ethics protects the nation from corruption and helps every administration to avoid scandal.

The White House should be embracing OGE’s guidance and collaborating with its staff to shore up public trust in government, not fighting with its dedicated civil servants and issuing secret ethics waivers.

Public officials should put the public’s interests above their private interests. This president has repeatedly repudiated democratic norms for transparency, accountability and ethics for the most powerful position in the federal government.

Until President Trump holds himself subject to federal ethics laws, disclosing his tax returns and divesting from his foreign and domestic business interests, both real and rumored corruption will continue to put this presidency in shadow.