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‘You’re Not Above the Law’- Office of Government Ethics tells Trump White House

Ethics Watchdog to White House: You’re Not Above the Law, Daily Beast
The Office of Government Ethics is unhappy with the White House again, warning that no one, not even the Executive Branch, is completely exempt from its rules.

A top government ethics watchdog on Thursday pushed back against White House claims that its employees are not subject to ethics rules that bind every other federal government official.

Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, told Stefan Passatino, President Donald Trump’s deputy counsel, that the claim has no basis in law or precedent.

Passatino’s “extraordinary assertion that ‘many’ of OGE’ s regulations are inapplicable to employees of the Executive Office of the President…is incorrect, and the letter cites no legal basis for it,” Shaub wrote in a Thursday letter.

The missive, the latest salvo between OGE and the White House,  was in response to a Feb. 13 letter in which Passatino told Shaub that the White House was complying with some OGE rules even though it was not legally bound to do so.

“Many regulations promulgated by [OGE] do not apply to employees of the Executive Office of the President,” Passatino wrote.

OGE has been in frequent contact with Trump’s team since the election and over the first month his presidency to try to hammer out legal and administrative issues created by the president’s sizable wealth and accompanying conflicts of interest.

 Despite that contact, Shaub’s Thursday letter shows that major points of contention remain regarding federal ethics rules. Trump has insisted that conflict-of-interest rules do not apply to the president.

But Passatino’s statement went even further, and Shaub was adamant that it was legally unfounded and contradicted the practices of past White Houses.

“Presidential administrations have not considered it appropriate to challenge the applicability of ethics rules to the entire executive branch,” Shaub wrote. “It is critical to the public’s faith in the integrity of government that White House employees be held to the same standard of ethical accountability as other executive branch employees.”

Shaub also took aim at the White House’s apparent refusal to discipline a senior staffer for using her position to enrich a member of Trump’s family, even as it seemed to admit wrongdoing……


March 13, 2017 - Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA

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