Cabinet officials rebuked by White House amid ethics questions: report

Four Cabinet-level officials were reportedly scolded in private meetings at the White House last month for news stories detailing questionable ethical behavior.

CNN reported Friday that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt were among those called to the White House.

The meetings were held at the request of White House chief of staff John Kelly, and stressed the importance of avoiding even so much as the appearance of unethical behavior, according to CNN.

The agencies were also reportedly given guidelines, titled "creating a culture of compliance." The advice outlined in that document highlighted the importance of "optics," saying that officials should refrain from behavior that could appear outside their agency's mission.

A number of Cabinet-level officials in the Trump administration have faced scrutiny amid questions dealing with ethical behavior.

Pruitt faced backlash over first-class travel on official trips, while Zinke's travel is the subject of investigations by the Office of Special Counsel and the Interior Department's inspector general.

Carson has also come under fire for purchasing a $31,000 table for his office, an order he canceled last week, while a trip to Europe by Shulkin last summer was the subject of an inspector general's report. That report found that the VA secretary misused government resources.