Walter Shaub, Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, who on numerous occasions criticized President Trump for his business interests, announced his resignation on Thursday.
Shaub’s decision to leave office is six months before the completion of his term. In a letter to Trump, which Shaub also posted on his Twitter account, notes he will officially step down from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) on July 19, 2017.
“The great privilege and honor of my career has been to lead OGE’s staff and the community of ethics officials in the federal executive branch,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “They are committed to protecting the principle that public service is public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.”
Outgoing ethics director Walter Shaub said in January that President Trump’s plan to reduce conflicts of interest “doesn’t meet the standards … that every president in the past four decades has met.” Claire Harbage/NPR
Schaub worked more than a decade in the ethics office—as the attorney heading the presidential nomination program, under then-President Barack Obama, was set to end his term in January 2018.
Serving in the OGE under both Democrat and Republican president’s, Schaub began his tenure with the department during the George W. Bush administration and later becoming the agency’s director under former President Barack Obama in 2013.
Schaub has clashed several times with the Trump, openly criticizing him for failing to relinquish ownership of his real-estate and licensing businesses.
Prior to President Trump’s swearing in as president, Shaub displayed frustration surrounding his business practices, stating they did not meet federal ethics standards.
The Office of Government Ethics’ official Twitter account tweeted about how the newly elected president wavered about whether he would disconnect himself from his businesses.
“Brilliant! Divestiture is good for you, good for America!” the tweets read.
Earlier this year, he urged the White House to discipline presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway for endorsing first daughter Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. He also called on the White House to allow his office to review and publicly disclose ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists to work in the administration.
Shaub’s new role will be at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit focused on political and election law, to head up its ethics practice.
“In working with the current administration, it has become clear to me that we need improvements to the existing ethics program. I look forward to working toward that aim at Campaign Legal Center, as well as working on ethics reforms at all levels of government,” Shaub said in a statement released by the center on Thursday.
Former Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission Trevor Potter, head of the Campaign Legal Center added,
“It’s imperative that we sustain a culture of high ethical standards in our government,” Potter said in a statement. “Walt, in serving the American public at the OGE under three presidents, has demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and integrity. All of us at CLC are thrilled to have him join us in our continuing work to protect and improve our democracy.”
Trump, is now tasked with selecting the next federal ethics watchdog, a five-year position that requires Senate confirmation as a result of Schaub’s resignation.
The Sunlight Foundation said Congress should take Shaub’s resignation seriously.
“This resignation, unfortunately, may weaken the work of a crucial federal agency that has been overwhelmed by ethics requests from the public and addressing the complex finances and associated conflicts from Trump’s wealthy nominees,” the civic organization wrote. “The Office of Government Ethics protects the nation from corruption and helps every administration avoid scandal.”
In a letter sent to supporters of the Campaign Legal Center, President Trevor Potter said Shaub has a “long track record of holding accountable government officials on both sides of the political aisle.”
“It’s imperative that we sustain a culture of high ethical standards in our government,” Potter, a Republican lawyer who has worked with Sen. John McCain and Stephen Colbert, said in a separate statement. “Walt, in serving the American public at the OGE under three presidents, has demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and integrity. All of us at CLC are thrilled to have him join us in our continuing work to protect and improve our democracy.”