Walter M. Shaub Jr., the government’s lead ethics watchdog, has held his post for the past four years, and before that spent a decade in civil service. But just six months into the Trump administration, he’s announced his resignation and departure for the private sector. Shaub has repeatedly pointed out ethical conflicts within the White House since Trump took office, but most of his recommendations have been ignored. Now, he feels it’s time to move on.
Shaub’s opponents say he’s nothing more than a lingering lackey of the Obama administration who’s determined to see Trump fail. His supporters say his voice is necessary in helping to maintain some semblance of ethics in the government. Yet Shaub himself says, “There isn’t much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation.” In his official letter of resignation, he took the opportunity to remind both the President and the public what exactly his position stands for:
“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 principles 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.”
The former OEG Director isn’t the only public servant to quit since Trump took office, citing an inability to effectively continue their work. Climate scientist Jane Zelikova quit the Energy Department last month. James Runcie, chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, also resigned in May after accusing Betsy deVos of partisan destabilization and micromanagement. Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) left in June, saying the president doesn’t value their work. That same month, Colette Honorable of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said she would move on after her term expired. She was one of the only remaining people on the panel after Norman Bay left in February. Earlier this week, Hui Chen, a corporate compliance watchdog in the Justice Department, cited the current administration’s unethical behavior as the reason for her resignation. Working for them, she said, was “like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic.”
Many of these workers have chosen to take a stand while moving on. Shaub acknowledged in a statement, for example, that the “O.G.E.’s recent experiences have made it clear that the ethics program needs to be strengthened.” But he feels, like his fellow fleeing public servants, that is one of many goals that are simply not going to happen right now.
(Via New York Times)