Partisanship underlies Obama ethics chief’s call for delay on confirmations

In seeking to delay confirmation proceedings for president-elect Trump’s Cabinet selections, Democrats cite the need for more time to investigate the nominees for possible conflicts interests. In doing so, they rely on Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). He complains that his office is being rushed to clear the Trump picks.

It would be much easier to take Shaub seriously if (1) he wasn’t a partisan Democrat and (2) the timetable for holding hearings on Trump’s selection differed significantly from 2009 when Obama’s nominees were up for confirmation.

Neither condition is satisfied. Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports that Shaub has strong ties to President Obama, missed Hillary Clinton’s ethical lapses, and pushed tweets mocking Trump.

Shaub was appointed by Obama in 2013 after donating $500 to the president’s reelection. He is not politically neutral.

Shaub’s partiality seems to have extended to Hillary Clinton. According to America Rising, which cites the reporting of the Examiner’s Sarah Westwood, his office gave Clinton a pass when it came to her speaking fees and potential help to Clinton Foundation donors:

After it was uncovered that Hillary Clinton failed to disclose millions in speech income, Congress called on the OGE to provide them with records related to this lapse in oversight. Curiously, the OGE eventually covered for Clinton when they stated that she did not have to disclose the millions in speech income. When Shaub was brought before Congress however, he “struggled to explain” why his office acted in this fashion.

In addition, Shaub’s office was also called out by NPR, of all outfits, for a post-election Twitter storm ridiculing Donald Trump and attempting to pressure him on the issue of divestiture of his financial holdings.

Some tweets tried to mimic Trump’s style, for example his use of exclamation points. In addition, as NPR reported, they misrepresented his statements by implying that he had promised full divestiture when he had not.

NPR discovered Shaub’s involvement through a Freedom of Information Act request:

New records shared with NPR on Friday show that behind the curious tweets was the head of the OGE himself, Director Walter Shaub Jr. In two emails, dated Nov. 30, just several minutes apart, Shaub sent to OGE Chief of Staff Shelley Finlayson the nine tweets that took the Internet by storm that day. He then followed up with a link to a legal document referenced in one of the tweets and writes: ‘Get all of these tweets posted as soon as humanly possible.’

Shaub’s pro-Democrat, anti-Trump bias is manifest.

The other problem with the Democrats’ attack on the expedited schedule for considering Trump’s nominees is that it is consistent with past practice. As Mitch McConnell has pointed out, seven of Barack Obama’s nominees were confirmed on the day he was sworn in.

Shaub claims that this sort of pace puts “undue pressure” on his office to examine conflicts. But if it was possible to clear Obama’s nominees on a fast track, it should not require a herculean effort to do so for Trump’s.

In any event, given Shaub’s partisanship, Republicans should not put off confirming Trump’s nominees on his say-so.


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