Trump moves to block ethics inquiry centered on ex-lobbyists: report

Trump moves to block ethics inquiry centered on ex-lobbyists: report
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The White House is looking to block an effort from the government’s top ethics office to disclose the names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the federal government, according to a new report. 

The New York Times reports that the White House sent a letter to the head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) challenging its legal authority to request that information.

“It is an extraordinary thing,” Walter Shaub Jr., the director of the ethics office, told the Times. “I have never seen anything like it.”

The letter sent by Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, questions whether the ethics office has the authority to demand information regarding ex-lobbyists who are currently working in the federal government.

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“This data call appears to raise legal questions regarding the scope of OGE’s authorities,” the letter reads. “I therefore request that you stay the data call until these questions are resolved.”

Trump signed an executive order in January that enacted a two-year ban on lobbyists being hired for federal government positions in “particular” agencies as part of a broader “ethics pledge.” 

Trump campaigned on a frequent pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington, but reports surfaced in April that the Trump administration was issuing secret waivers for appointees to circumvent ethics rules. The Times and ProPublica found at least two of Trump’s White House appointees may have violated ethics rules. The White House offered a brief statement after the report was published.

"The White House takes its ethics pledge and federal conflict of interest rules very seriously. The White House requires all of its employees to work closely with ethics counsel to ensure compliance and has aggressively required employees to recuse or divest where the law requires," the statement read.