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Government Ethics

Latest House probe of Trump is about his waiving ethics rules he set for his people

The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee is again challenging President Trump over his campaign promise to combat public corruption and "drain the swamp" in Washington.

With the president already refusing to cooperate in a score of investigations by congressional Democrats, a showdown that could precipitate a constitutional showdown or impeachment, this new spat's importance may well get overlooked. But the regulation of the revolving door between government and business is of prime concern to ethics watchdogs.


In a letter sent this week to the White House and 24 federal agencies, Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings asked for information about the administration's use of waivers to permit political appointees to work on matters they were involved in before entering government, which is normally against the rules.

That's because Trump himself signed an executive order shortly after taking office instituting a two-year ban on political appointees being involved in matters they worked on before entering the federal government. The order, however, allows the president to waive the restriction. A few months after it was signed, the Office of Government Ethics issued a directive requiring the White House and all agencies to provide documents about the ethics waivers that have been granted.

Some of that information is posted on the White House website but Cummings said not all of the required information has been made public – including who signed the waivers, when they were signed and how long they last. Also, not all of the employees who received the waivers are listed separately in some cases.

"Although the White House committed to providing information on ethics waivers on its websites, the White House has failed to disclosure comprehensive information about the waivers to the public," Cummings wrote.

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