The head of a little known federal agency that deals with ethics matters for the Executive Branch of the federal government turned in his resignation on Thursday, leaving his post early after months of skirmishes with the Trump Administration over how President Donald Trump should deal with ethics questions and his family businesses.
Walter Schaub, who headed the Office of Government Ethics, gave no explanation in a short letter of resignation as to why he was leaving his job before his five year term expired in 2018. He will join the Campaign Legal Center, a non-profit group that deals with election law, after leaving federal service on July 19.
In his resignation letter to President Trump, Schaub said “public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.”
Few in Washington, D.C. knew much about the Office of Government Ethics before the arrival of the Trump Administration, as Schaub tried to use social media to get the attention of the new President, publicly urging him to divest his business holdings in an effort to stay above ethical questions.
At the time, official Washington was puzzled by the series of tweets at the end of November 2016 – it would come to light later on that Schaub had authorized the OGE Twitter account to try to put public pressure on the Trump Transition team and Mr. Trump.
Schaub’s agency was besieged with requests for information about ethics waivers and agreements involving not only the President, but members of his administration.
At one point, the White House ordered Schaub to stop asking for copies of ethics waivers that had been given to top officials; ultimately, the White House backed down on that in May.
But it was obvious that there was little love lost for Schaub inside the Trump Administration, especially after Schaub used a January appearance at the Brookings Institute to very publicly voice his concerns about ethics matters involving the President and his family.