While the rest of the country was digesting their dinners, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics “quietly reversed its own internal policy prohibiting anonymous donations from lobbyists to White House staffers who have legal defense funds,” Politico reports.
Some staffers who don’t have the business empires of their boss or the personal wealth of some current and former cabinet members and aides will likely need help paying for their lawyers when and if they are questioned — and it appears the OGE reversal is aimed, on the surface, at providing that assistance.
Nevertheless, the newly-reversed rule “raises the potential for hidden conflicts of interest or other ethics trouble” by people who have something to gain from the White House, Politico notes.
“You can picture a whole army of people with business before the government willing to step in here and make [the debt] go away,” Marilyn Glynn, a former acting OGE director and 17-year veteran of the department, told Politico.
Walter Shaub, who served as head of the OGE until his resignation in July, said on Twitter that he was “disgusted” by the reversal.