Government’s Top Ethics Chief, Trump Critic, Resigns

FILE – In this Jan. 23, 2017 file photo, Walter Shaub Jr., director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics walks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Shaub, who prodded President Donald Trump’s administration over conflicts of interest is resigning to take a new job, at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit in Washington that mostly focuses on violations of campaign finance law. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (CN) – The government’s top ethics chief, who openly called on President Trump to fully divest his assets and criticized him for failing to do so, announced Thursday that he will step down from his post more than five months early.

Walter Shaub Jr. submitted his resignation as the director of the Office of Government Ethics Thursday afternoon, and said he will be joining the non-profit Campaign Legal Center as its senior director of ethics later this month.

“I have had the honor and privilege of serving the American public at the U.S. Office of Government Ethics under three presidents – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump,” Shaub said in Campaign Legal Center statement.

“In working with the current administration, it has become clear to me that we need improvements to the existing ethics program. I look forward to working toward that aim at Campaign Legal Center, as well as working on ethics reforms at all levels of government,” the statement continued.

President Obama appointed Shaub in 2013. Shaub told the New York Times Thursday that he faced no pressure to resign before his five-year term expired in January, but indicated that his new position will enable him to advocate more freely for ethics reforms.

His resignation letter offered scant details on his reasons for calling it quits, but expressed admiration for federal ethics officials who Shaub said “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.”

The Office of Government Ethics under Shaub’s leadership has not shied away from criticizing the administration over perceived ethics conflicts.

When President Trump decided to keep his financial stakes in the Trump Organization and let his sons manage it, Shaub called the arrangement “wholly inadequate.”

The OGE tried unsuccessfully to get the White House to punish senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for inappropriately promoting Ivanka Trump’s fashion line. But it did succeeded in pressuring the White House to disclose information about the ethics waivers it granted to employees wishing to avoid violating rules against interacting with their previous employers.

However, Shaub objected when White House lawyers tried to hand over waivers without dates, an indication that the White House may have granted some retroactively.

Shaub will serve his last day as the chief of government ethics on July 19.

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