Despite President Donald Trump repeated campaign pledges to “drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington, the White House refused to release a full list of current staffers that worked as lobbyists under previous administrations.
White House Refuses to Grant Request
The White House made it clear that it wants the list to remain secret after the director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter M. Shaub Jr., filed a request with the Trump administration to release all ethics waivers issued for former lobbyists that now work in Trump’s White House or in government agencies.
The OGE chief asked for the disclosure of waivers granted for every agency, but the president’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) refused to honor the request because it needed “further legal guidance” on the matter.
OMB is also concerned that Shaub’s intentions are not pure since the internal discussion around the waivers mysteriously landed in the New York Times’ hands, which first wrote a report on Schaub’s efforts.
OMB thinks the OGE filed the request for a reason other than “satisfying our mutual high standard of ethics.” Schaub was surprised by the response, saying that it is the first time something like this happens to him.
It is worth noting that Shaub was appointed under the Obama administration, but his views on the way the government should run the country are largely shared by a former Office of Government Ethics employee who served under the Bush administration, Marilyn L. Glynn.
Glynn believes the White House’s response undermines the authority of the OGE chief and prevents him from carrying out the functions of the office.
Trump Administration Could Be Teeming with Lobbyists
Just weeks after he was sworn in, President Trump signed an executive order barring lobbyists from accessing positions in his administration. The president, however, is able to issue waivers whenever he deems it necessary. However, under the Obama administration, the waivers were automatically made public, which no longer happens under the new administration.
According to federal records, one of Trump’s senior campaign aides and former national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn was lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of the Turkish government while he was being able to hear secret briefings in his capacity as Trump aide.
Flynn’s lobbying firm stopped catering to foreign governments when he became national security adviser to the president, but during that time, he had a major role in shaping the policy toward Turkey. Ironically, Flynn was working for a man who pledged to lower lobbyists’ influence in Washington.
According to several media reports, the White House knew long before hiring him about his lobbying activities. When his firm started working for a Turkish national tied to the Turkish government in 2016, Flynn failed to report himself as a foreign lobbyist.
Flynn’s Turkish client denied having any ties to the Turkish government and claimed that Flynn’s consulting firm had no connection to the Turkish government either. However, documents filed by the disgraced national security adviser with the DOJ in early March revealed that the businessman “introduced officials of the Republic of Turkey” to Flynn’s lobbying firm on Sept. 19, 2016.
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