Jason Chaffetz Threatens Investigation Into Government Ethics Monitor

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) / AP
• January 13, 2017 2:44 pm


Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) threatened an investigation into the federal government's top ethics watchdog on Thursday after the group publicly questioned Donald Trump's plan to address potential conflicts of interest.

Chaffetz offered an unusual rebuke of the Office of Government ethics, accusing director Walter Shaub in a letter of "blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance," the New York Times reported.

Chaffetz listed a series of tweets posted to the office's official account in November that pre-emptively congratulated Trump for pledging to divest in his businesses, despite the president-elect never agreeing to do so.

The Utah lawmaker also charged the office of failing to investigate Hillary Clinton regarding allegations that she had not properly disclosed fees paid to the Clinton Foundation for speeches delivered as secretary of state.

Chaffetz noted in the letter the committee's authority to reauthorize, or shutdown, the ethics office.

Shaub on Wednesday called Trump's plan to separate himself from his business "meaningless" after the president-elect announced he would pass control to his sons and place his assets into a trust. Shaub said in a speech at the Brookings Institute that the initiative threatens "the perception" that Trump would use his official position as president to obtain profit.

Shaub has also complained that the incoming administration is placing "undue pressure" on the OGE staff to "rush through" reviews of Trump's Cabinet nominees, warning that some may have "potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues."

America Rising PAC, a Republican opposition research firm, accused the ethics office this week of attempting to slow the confirmation process. The group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in an attempt to target what they say is the politicization of the office under the Obama administration.

"The American people deserve to know if Walter Shaub has turned the ethics office into an arm of the Senate Democrats' Campaign of Obstruction," Scott Sloofman, a spokesman for America Rising, said in a statement Wednesday.