I’ve posted several times on the way that Obama’s ethics chief Walter Shaub, who is also an Obama political donor, has elected to publicly belabor Donald Trump over his business connections, despite having no legal authority over Trump’s financial decisions, and the way he as insinuated his office into the pending confirmations of Trump’s cabinet.
While ethics in government are important and I don’t think Trump is doing anywhere near enough to diminish the appearance of impropriety, a decision that is inevitably going to come back to bite him in the ass, it is becoming impossible to see Shaub as anything but another combatant from another technically neutral agency, like the IRS, that Obama has managed to weaponize. It was this same office that cleared Hillary Clinton of all conflicts of interest in regards to the Clinton Foundation and gave permission to give speeches paid for by foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. It is this office under Shaub who has now determined, after Hillary Clinton lost the election, that ethics rules need to be tightened up.
Jason Chaffetz seems to have had enough. The weaponization of the ethics department combined with Shaub’s obvious contempt for the GOP Congress might get him a subpoena:
House Republicans have found a subject for their opening review of conflicts of interest under Donald Trump: the federal official in charge of investigating conflicts of interest.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the head of the House Oversight Committee, criticized the director of the federal Office of Government Ethics on Thursday over his criticism of Donald Trump’s plan to address conflicts of interest. And he threatened to subpoena the official, Walter Shaub, if he refuses to participate in an official interview.
Chaffetz said Shaub has refused since the election to agree to a meeting to discuss matters related to OGE’s public remarks about Trump, as well as the Republican-led panel’s plans to pass language reauthorizing the office. If Shaub continues to resist, Chaffetz said he’d issue a subpoena “if we have to.”
“We need a fair person behind the plate that’s going to call balls and strikes,” Chaffetz said. “What they’re supposed to do is help work with somebody to comply with the ethics requirements. But when you talk publicly about private conversations, that’s not ethical. And when you refuse to come in and talk to the committee when you’re doing reauthorization, when you start tweeting and issuing press statements on things you never looked at, that shouldn’t be the case at all.”
Regardless of what Trump does and doesn’t do, Chaffetz is correct on all counts. What Shaub has done is improper on its face in both the way it has acted and how it has communicated those actions. His refusal to meet with Chaffetz on language to a bill reauthorizing the Office of Government Ethics is a clear challenge to the authority of Chaffetz and of Congress to exercise any oversight of this office and its activities.