Oversight Dems Support OGE Demand For Disclosure of Trump’s Waivers For Lobbyists Now Working in Administration

May 22, 2017
Press Release

Oversight Dems Support OGE Demand For Disclosure of Trump’s Waivers For Lobbyists Now Working in Administration


President’s Secret Waivers Contradict  Pledge to “Drain the Swamp”


Washington, D.C. (May 22, 2017)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, publicly released a letter signed by all Committee Democrats to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter M. Shaub, Jr., strongly supporting his office’s demand for copies of waivers of ethics rules issued by the Trump Administration to lobbyists and others working in the White House and throughout the Trump Administration.


“It is critical that you and your office make transparent how the individuals serving in the Trump Administration are complying, or failing to comply, with President Trump’s executive order and other ethics requirements,” the Members wrote.  “Your role is particularly important because the White House itself is keeping this information secret.”


This morning, the New York Times reported that the Trump Administration, “in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose the names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the White House or federal agencies.”


The Times also reported that President Trump’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney, sent a letter on May 17, 2017, trying to stop federal agencies across the government from responding to the Office of Government Ethics and calling on Shaub to “stay” his request for copies of the President’s waivers based on undefined “legal questions.” 


Last night, OMB issued a statement falsely claiming that Mulvaney’s letter to Shaub was leaked to the New York Times, asserting:  “The very fact that this internal discussion was leaked implies that the data being sought is not being collected to satisfy our mutual high standard of ethics.”  In fact, the Times obtained the letter though the Freedom of Information Act.


In their letter, Oversight Democrats warned that the White House has also refused to provide information to Congress, writing:  “Members of Congress have sent numerous document requests to the White House and federal agencies requesting information about potential conflicts of interest of President Trump’s appointees and whether those advisors have received waivers from President Trump’s executive order or other conflict of interest laws or are recused from certain matters.  These letters have received no response.”


For example:


  • On March 8, 2017, Cummings and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper sent a letter to White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino requesting information about how the White House plans to monitor and ensure compliance with federal ethics rules in light of reports that “Jared Kushner, son-in-law and Senior Adviser to President Trump, has failed to fully divest of his business interests.”


  • On March 9, 2017, Cummings sent a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn demanding an explanation for a claim by his Deputy, Stefan Passantino, that “many regulations promulgated by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) do not apply to the employees of the Executive office of the President.”  He received no response.


  • On April 21, 2017, Cummings and Senators Warren, Whitehouse, Carper, and Leahy sent a letter to Passantino questioning his own potential conflicts of interest, including his previous legal work for the President’s Special Advisor on Regulatory Reform, Carl Icahn, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.  They received no response.


  • Even before the President was sworn in, on November 18, Cummings sent a letter to Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence warning about conflicts of interest with General Michael Flynn and his consulting firm’s work on behalf of foreign interests before the President selected him as National Security Advisor.  Although the Trump transition team acknowledged receipt of the letter, White House spokesman Sean Spicer claimed President Trump knew nothing about Flynn’s lobbying when he named him National Security Advisor, and Vice President Pence told Fox News he did not learn about Flynn’s work for Turkey until March of this year.


115th Congress