May 01, 2017

Warren and Carper Receive Response from OGE on Ethical Concerns Raised by Ivanka Trump's White House Role

Full text of the letter sent to OGE available here (PDF)

Full text of OGE's response available here (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) today released a new letter from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) clarifying that at least six separate ethics laws and rules will apply to Ivanka Trump in her role as a White House employee.  The letter detailed financial disclosure requirements that apply to Ms. Trump and confirmed that she is prohibited from participating in government matters related to the Trump family businesses. OGE also reported that their office was not initially consulted by the White House regarding Ms. Trump's employment status, and that ethics officials in the White House would generally be responsible for monitoring Ms. Trump's compliance with ethics rules and laws.

On the morning of March 29th, Warren and Carper wrote to OGE stating that "Ms. Trump's increasing, albeit unspecified, White House role, her potential conflicts of interest, and her commitment to voluntarily comply with relevant ethics and conflicts of interest have resulted in substantial confusion." Later that day, Ms. Trump announced that she would serve as an official, unpaid, White House employee.

According to OGE's letter, Ms. Trump's official status means she is "covered by the ethics laws and regulations applicable to executive branch employees," which are "designed to ensure the impartiality of the government's decision making." Additionally, OGE confirmed that "the primary criminal conflict of interest statute prohibits Ms. Trump from participating in particular matters affecting her financial interests, including the financial interests of Trump family businesses and other companies in which she has an ownership interest." Ms. Trump will be required to disclose her financial interests, as well as those of her spouse and children, by filing "new entrance financial disclosure reports within 30 days of appointment."

Ms. Trump's financial disclosures will be reviewed for possible conflicts of interest, as OGE notes the "primary conflict of interest statute prohibits senior White House appointees and other executive branch employees from participating personally and substantially in particular matters directly and predictably affecting their financial interests," including companies in which the appointee holds an ownership interest. In order to avoid these conflicts, Ms. Trump must either recuse herself from matters that would affect her financial interests, divest, establish a blind trust, or receive a waiver or exemption.

The White House is responsible for providing ethics support and advice to Ms. Trump, and will work with her to certify her financial disclosure report before referring it to OGE for a second-level review. OGE will either certify or decline to certify the report based on their assessment of compliance with financial disclosure and conflict of interest rules.