News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Open Government

Officials failed to disclose new jobs when leaving Trump administration

Seven senior Trump administration officials left government without disclosing their future private sector jobs on federal financial disclosure reports, an apparent violation of federal law.

"It's the latest in what good government advocates say is a pattern of ethical lapses in the Trump administration," Politico wrote in detailing the apparent breeches of the rules. "Several government watchdog groups have criticized the Trump administration repeatedly for allowing high-ranking staffers to spend exorbitant amounts of money on travel, promoting Trump businesses and failing to file legally required financial reports."

One of the former officials is Stefan Passantino, who as deputy White House counsel was in charge of West Wing compliance with ethics rules and is now handling the Trump Organization's response to a spate of House oversight investigations.

Two others have returned recently to the Trump orbit: Marc Short, who was director of legislative affairs before leaving and now back as Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, and Bill Stepien, who was director of political affairs and is now working for the president's re-election campaign.

The others are Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intergovernmental and technology initiatives; Katie Walsh, deputy chief of staff; Paul Winfree, deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy; and John McEntee, who was the president's personal aide.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Big Picture
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

During his State of the Union address this year, President Trump said he would stonewall the legislative process if members of Congress don't play ball, writes Neal.

A year of broken standards for America’s democracy

Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.

The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.

Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.

Keep reading... Show less

The founders of Register2Vote, Madeline Eden and Jeremy Smith, preparing registration information for mailing in Texas last year.

After successful Texas debut, tech-based voter registration platform goes national

Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.

"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."

Keep reading... Show less