Walter Shaub @waltshaub former Director of @OfficeGovEthics now with @CREWcrew personal account - views are my own Jun. 15, 2019 3 min read

In a recent interview, Louise Linton said "Run, don't walk, straight to the Office of Government Ethics" for advice on "obscure" ethics rules. I'm not sure the government ethics office will take her call - what with her not being in government. But here's what they might say: /1

When an official agrees to divest an asset, his fiancée should NOT help him fool the Office of Government Ethics by buying that asset from him a couple months before marrying him. A spouse's assets are attributable to the government official. /2  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/us/politics/steven-mnuchin-ethics-office.html 

A government official and his spouse should not take an expensive government aircraft to go watch an eclipse at taxpayer's expense. It's our plane, not the official's plane. Misuse of government resources would be an ethics violation, if such misconduct could be proven. /3

An official should properly document the justification for using government aircraft. Proper stewardship of appropriated funds includes properly accounting to the American people whose funds one is using. /4
 https://money.cnn.com/2017/10/10/news/economy/treasury-inspector-general-mnuchin-travel/index.html 

An official should not frivolously use expensive government aircraft. This includes refraining from asking to take an expensive government aircraft for one's honeymoon. /5
 https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/15/steven-mnuchin-plane-travel-cost-421176 

An official should never use his government position to promote movies he has produced. You see, a government position is for advancing the interests of the American people and not for advancing one's own interests. /6
 https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article140621378.html 

An official and an official's spouse should be mindful of optics. You see, they should not create the impression that high level government officials are in Washington for the perks. It undermines trust in the integrity of government. /7

An official should not live in a hotel owned by his supervisor, especially when that hotel is a vehicle for corruption that allows foreign governments and others with interests before our government funnel cash to the supervisor. /8
 https://theweek.com/speedreads/684009/several-trump-administration-officials-live-trumps-washington-hotel 

An official's spouse shouldn't mock citizens who have entrusted the official with power over their lives. The concern is not about rudeness - there's no rule against being a crummy person. It's about demonstrating awareness that the official is in DC to serve those citizens. /9

If an official's spouse does happen to mock a citizen, there's a right way and a wrong way to apologize. The wrong way is to say " Shit happens; mistakes happen" and moan about how the spouse has suffered because all the little people think she's mean. /10  https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/louise-linton-steve-mnuchin-trump/ 

And doing media puff pieces in one's bathing suit in the rain while talking about one's upcoming film project and discussing the official's role in govt might seem to some like trying to trade of the official's government position. But, then, who among us hasn't done this? /11

When one's govt official spouse has been the subject of ethical scrutiny for an appearance of conflicts of interest, for having a financial disclosure rejected and for having to write an apology letter for ethical failure - well, one can see why the public might be concerned. /12

When a law says one's govt official spouse "shall" turn over documents to Congress, he must turn them over. He shouldn't let the government's lawyers tell him to disobey the law, especially if they admit in an opinion that the courts will overrule him. You see, laws matter. /13

Ones govt official spouse might consider the optics of divesting assets in exchange for low-interest notes that will not come due until after the administration has ended. The public might wonder who the purchasers are and whether the notes might be ripped up when he leaves govt.

This thread has a few typos (e.g. "ones" should be "one's" and "of" should be "off"), but fortunately there's no government ethics rule about typos. As the Senior Counselor to the President would say: "blah blah blah."


You can follow @waltshaub.



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