The tweet thread is from Walter Shaub, who we respect the hell out of: “This may seem like a small thing, but it will take you no time at all, and it’s one way that you can make a difference in the fight against corruption. I really hope you’ll do this. And I hope you’ll recruit others. Together, we can have an impact.“
FAST Action!: Email a note to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE)
1. Address an email to ContactOGE@oge.gov
2. OGE’s notice says the SUBJECT line MUST read: “Proposed Rule: Legal Expense Fund Regulation (RIN 3209-AA50)” (you can read the proposed rule here)
3. Write a comment — OR, and this is the easy part, cut and paste the one Walter Shaub has drafted for us to use!
I oppose OGE’s proposed legal expense fund regulation as drafted. OGE should: – remove the exception that makes compliance with the regulation optional;
– replace the proposed recusal requirement with a broader 5-year recusal requirement that prevents donors of cash gifts from influencing decisions, policies, or regulations affecting them or the industries in which they have substantial interests;
– remove the offensive example involving an accused sexual harasser; and – place nonprofit charities (501(c)(3) organizations) on an equal footing with large law firms by allowing them to hire legal counsel for whistleblowers.
Walter Shaub, who resigned in 2017 as director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) as a lost cause under Trump, has issued a new warning in a tweet thread. Trump’s acting director for OGE allowed cronies of the White House to set up a political organization (a 527 group) called the “Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust” to raise cash to cover legal expenses for Trump appointees and others caught up in the Russian investigations. Federal officials can’t take gifts from certain sources, but the organization’s manager could raise money from those sources and the govt had no way to monitor if she was giving the money to Trump appointees. She also was given “sole and absolute discretion” to determine that the defendant acted “in good faith and without knowledge” of any illegality. Seriously.
During Emory Round’s confirmation hearing as new permanent director for a 5-year term in 2018, senators pointed out that there was nothing to prevent the organization’s manager from accepting money from prohibited sources or pressuring witnesses by withholding money from anyone who testified against Trump. This thing was a nearly perfect vehicle for corruption. He promised to make the process transparent.
- GOOD: Rounds has proposed a rule to restrict cash gifts to officials,
- big law firms — which make over a billion dollars a year and represent foreign governments and regulated industries — can provide unlimited legal support to officials, BUT it says nonprofits can’t hire lawyers for whistleblowers.,
- the regulation imposes only a short, narrow recusal from matters involving the donor. After a year, the official could, for example, award the donor a government contract.
- the funds could supports sexual harassers – such as senior military officers court martialed for sexual harrassment.
- WTH?: Compliance with the revised regulation on ethics is OPTIONAL!!! “The official doesn’t have to recuse at all if — IN THE OFFICIAL’S OWN OPINION — the public wouldn’t be concerned about the official’s impartiality in a matter that involves the person who gave the official a wheelbarrow full of cash.”