Posted July 6, 2017 2:44 PM
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Ethics director who prodded Trump quits

By Julie Bykowicz
Associated Press writer

WASHINGTON — The government ethics director who prodded President Donald Trump’s administration over conflicts of interest is resigning to take a new job.

Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, is joining the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit in Washington that mostly focuses on violations of campaign finance law.

Both Shaub and the Campaign Legal Center posted the news on their Twitter accounts, and Shaub confirmed his move to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama appointed Shaub, a longtime Office of Government Ethics employee, to office director in 2013. His term was set to expire next year. In his resignation letter to Trump, dated today, Shaub wrote that the employees he led “are committed to protecting the principle that public service is a public trust.”

Beginning shortly after Election Day, Shaub and Trump’s attorneys have engaged in an unusual bit of warfare that played out in eight months of ethics office tweets, letters between them and the office responses to congressional requests.

After Trump made it clear in January that he would not sell off his global business empire to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, Shaub spoke out.

He said Trump’s plan to retain financial interests in the Trump Organization while handing over leadership to his adult sons and a senior executive “doesn’t meet the standards” of Trump’s own Cabinet nominees and four decades of previous presidents.

Since then, the ethics office has unsuccessfully asked the White House to punish a senior adviser to the president over inappropriately promoting Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.

The office succeeded in pressuring the White House to release information about ethics waivers it has granted to employees seeking to avoid running afoul of rules against interacting with previous employers.

However, Shaub objected to White House lawyers handing over undated waivers — suggesting some of them may have been given retroactively.

“It’s become clear to me that changes are needed to strengthen the executive branch ethics program,” Shaub said today.

Shaub said his work at the Campaign Legal Center will focus on government ethics, including at the congressional and state level.

He said he will work from the outside to strengthen an executive branch ethics program that is designed to help thousands of federal employees avoid conflicts of interest.

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