The administration of US President Donald Trump has secretly allowed some White House officials to get away with violating the government ethics rules, according to a new report.
Reports from lobbyists and interviews with ethics officials suggest that breaches by at least two of Trump’s aides have gone unpunished, The New York Times reported Saturday.
According to the report, the Trump administration has been trying to hide the nature of the violations by issuing waivers for the ethics rules.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, who refused to discuss the matter with White House ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino at the Times’ request, denied the allegation.
“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,” she asserted in a short statement.
The report noted the vast change of staff that came with the new administration has made way for sweeping policy changes to former President Barack Obama’s ethics rules, ranging from Wall Street rules to environmental regulations.
Trump claimed during his election campaign that he would fight Wall Street, but ended up filling his cabinet with billionaires who had known ties with big corporations.
Trump's own family members, including his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, have also been accused of such practices.
Michael Catanzaro, who until late 2016 worked as a lobbyist for major energy and oil industries, was one of the White House staff that the report listed as a possible ethics violator.
The Times also pointed the finger at White House Transportation Agency chief of staff Chad Wolf, another former lobbyist who once arranged funding for the Transportation Security Administration.
Meanwhile, Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, criticized the Trump administration’s disregard of ethics rules.
Shaup specifically objected to one of Trump’s executive orders in late January, which revoked a requirement set by former President Barack Obama, banning executive branch staff from accepting jobs at agencies they have lobbied for.
He argued that lobbyists working for the government could more easily obtain waivers to work on matters that potentially benefited their former employers.
“There’s no transparency, and I have no idea how many waivers have been issued,” Shaub told the Times.