Senators Call on Trump to Disclose Ethics Waivers and White House Visitor Logs
Whitehouse, Udall, Carper, Heinrich, Warren, Markey, Duckworth: ‘Secrecy is becoming the hallmark of the Trump White House'
‘The American public is entitled to know who meets with the President and White House policy makers'
‘We stand ready to work with your Administration to ensure the federal government meets the highest ethical standards. We are prepared to press for legislation to address these issues if you do not"
Washington, D.C. - Amidst reports of lobbyists, lawyers, and consultants from a range of industries shaping federal policy and coming and going from the Trump administration with ease, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tom Carper (D-DE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) are calling on President Donald Trump to reveal who has been allowed to side step his administration's ethics pledge and why, and who is visiting his White House to influence policy.
"Scandal follows conflict of interest like night follows day," the Senators write in a letter sent to the White House today. "Your decisions permit industry lobbyists to advance their agendas in your administration, confer with former clients and employers to craft government policy behind closed doors, and cash out by returning to their high-paying lobbying jobs to take advantage of those new policies, all thanks to secret waivers that are never made public."
In their letter, the Senators request that President Trump make public all waivers to his ethics pledge as soon as they are granted and release White House visitor records in keeping with precedent set by the previous administration. "Should you take these initial steps," the Senators write, "we stand ready to work with your administration to ensure the federal government meets the highest ethical standards. We are prepared to press for legislation to address these issues if you do not."
Conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency have become major issues for the Trump Administration as it nears its 100-day mark. On Sunday, the New York Times reported several lobbyists, lawyers, and consultants from oil and gas interests, financial services companies, and the construction industry who have assumed top positions in the White House and federal agencies. The Times cites several examples of those officials' direct involvement in shaping policy that affects the interests they formerly served. Bloomberg broke news last week that one of Trump's senior advisers is already leaving his post to represent the banking industry. To do so, the administration granted the adviser a waiver of the binding ethics pledge he signed, which bans lobbying by former Trump administration officials for five years after they leave service. The Washington Post has reported on a Trump State Department appointee who left without signing the ethics pledge at all and has already registered as a lobbyist for Verizon and Inovio Pharmaceuticals. A Pro Publica analysis of Trump appointees found three dozen former lobbyists hired by the Trump administration from the health insurance, pharmaceuticals, construction, energy, and finance industries.
Citing "grave national security risks," the Trump administration announced Friday that it would discontinue the previous administration's policy of releasing White House visitor logs. The Senators note in their letter, "We are not aware of any instance where the disclosure of the name of a visitor to the White House, as long as three months after that visit, created a national security risk. The American public is entitled to know who meets with the President and White House policy makers."
A PDF copy of the letter is available here.
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