Trump Administration Faces Blizzard of Ethics Complaints by Watchdog

Thirty ethics complaints against the Trump administration have been filed with several federal agencies by a prominent government watchdog, Public Citizen, alleging that employees are working in violation of President Donald Trump’s executive order intended to “drain the swamp” and keep government free of former lobbyists, NBC News writes.

The complaints cite Executive Order No. 13770, which effectively barred former lobbyists from being appointed to governmental positions in which they would manage issues they’d lobbied on within the past two years.

Last year, 36 lobbyists who had been tapped for government jobs dealing with issues they had previously lobbied on were identified by the watchdog which said that only six of them received waivers.

“These 30 apparent violations of Trump’s own ethics rules are only the tip of the iceberg,” said Craig Holman, co-author of the June 2017 report and lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.

He added that waivers had been issued only to those appointees whose violations had been reported by media, attracting the attention and scrutiny of the public. Among those who have not received waivers from the Trump administration is Byron Anderson, a special assistant to the Secretary of Labor, who according to Public Citizen, “appears to be working on the same specific issue areas he had lobbied on within the last two years, and has not received a waiver from the ethics rules.”

Another individual cited for the same reason was Andrew Wheeler, who worked as a lobbyist for the coal industry as recently as May 2017. The group also filed complaints citing employees at the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Health and Human Services and so on.

The complaints have been sent to ethics officers at the agencies where these individuals work, requesting them to investigate.

“The bottom line is that neither Trump nor his administration take conflicts of interest and ethics seriously,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “‘Drain the swamp’ was far more campaign rhetoric than a commitment to ethics, and the widespread lack of compliance and enforcement of Trump’s ethics executive order shows that ethics do not matter in the Trump administration.”

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