After repeatedly clashing with President Donald Trump and his administration for failing to comply with basic ethics rules, Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Walter Shaub Jr. announced Thursday that he will be resigning later this month.
Although Shaub did not cite those clashes in his resignation letter, he later confirmed that he could no longer work with the Trump administration as they continue to flaunt their ethical violations.
In a letter addressed to Trump, Shaub wrote, “The great privilege and honor of my career has been to lead OGE’s staff and the community of ethics officials in the federal executive branch. They are committed to protecting the principle that public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principals above private gain. I am grateful for the efforts of this dedicated and patriotic assembly of public servants, and I am proud to have served with them.”
Instead of lauding the Trump administration with false praise, Shaub noted the integrity and dedication of his colleagues at the OGE, not the White House. During a recent interview, Shaub told The Washington Post, “It’s clear that there isn’t more I could accomplish.”
Appointed OGE Director by President Barack Obama in 2013, Shaub had been scheduled to remain in office until January 2018. In an attempt to avoid favoritism and partisan biases, directors at the OGE serve five-year terms in order to ensure overlap between presidential administrations.
After Trump won the election in November, Shaub’s office began urging the president-elect to completely divest from his businesses. Despite the fact that Trump promised to divest his financial interests and set up a blind trust in order to avoid any conflicts of interest, his sons currently manage the Trump Organization, which allows the president to withdraw funds at any time.
“The ethics program starts at the top,” Shaub said during a speech at the Brookings Institution in January. “We can’t risk creating the perception that government officials will use their positions for personal profit.”
After Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway encouraged people to buy Ivanka Trump’s clothing line and other products during an interview with NBC News in February, Shaub chastised the Trump administration for failing to reprimand Conway. Instead of punishing Conway for blatantly using her position to market cosmetic products sold by the president’s affluent daughter, the White House merely told Shaub that the current Counselor to the U.S. President would no longer violate any federal laws on television again.
Discovering that at least 17 Trump employees had been granted waivers to ethics rules, Shaub’s concern sharply increased due to the fact that the waiver allows Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon to continue communicating with his former colleagues at Breitbart. During his in-house feud with Jared Kushner, Bannon used the conservative publication to badmouth his political rival for several weeks.
In a statement released on Thursday, Shaub wrote, “I have had the honor and privilege of serving the American public at the U.S. Office of Government Ethics under three presidents – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. In working with the current administration, it has become clear to me that we need improvements to the existing ethics program. I look forward to working toward that aim at Campaign Legal Center, as well as working on ethics reforms at all levels of government.”
Last month, DOJ corporate compliance watchdog Hui Chen resigned due to the incessant ethical flaws emanating from the Trump administration.
In a LinkedIn blog posted on June 25, Chen explained, “First, trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to was creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome. To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic. Even as I engaged in those questioning and evaluations, on my mind were the numerous lawsuits pending against the President of the United States for everything from violations of the Constitution to conflict of interest, the ongoing investigations of potentially treasonous conducts, and the investigators and prosecutors fired for their pursuits of principles and facts. Those are conducts I would not tolerate seeing in a company, yet I worked under an administration that engaged in exactly those conduct. I wanted no more part in it.”