Outgoing ethics chief calls White House accusation of leaks 'ridiculous'

Walter Shaub is leaving his post as director of government ethics.

ByCHRISTINA POWELL
July 09, 2017, 10:42 AM

— -- Walter Shaub, the outgoing director of the office of government ethics, said a White House statement accusing him of leaking and tweeting information is "ridiculous.”

The statement provided exclusively to “This Week” by a White House official Friday said, “Mr. Shaub has been outspoken by leaking, tweeting, and writing letters to Democrat members of Congress, but since the president was sworn into office, he never once raised travel, passive holdings or other ethics issues involving the President in a single discussion with the White House Counsel or Deputy Counsel overseeing ethics and compliance.”

On Sunday, Shaub responded in an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” saying, “That's just a ridiculous statement. I'm the head of a federal agency and I make decisions about what information we're going to release in an official way on behalf of the agency in order to communicate with the public.”

Shaub defended his actions, saying that it’s his responsibility to respond to letters and questions, adding that communicating with the public is one of the only avenues that the OGE has to “leverage change.”

“One of the prime functions of the executive branch ethics program is to try to engage the public, bring them, help them understand the ethics rules and how they're being applied and help them to have confidence in the government's operations when the rules are being followed,” said Shaub.

When asked about the claim made in the White House statement that he never raised ethics issues directly with the White House counsel or deputy counsel, Shaub said he has “no idea what they’re talking about.”

“I've spoken with the White House counsel quite a number of times prior to the election,” said Shaub. “After the election, he absented himself from the program and had us deal with his deputy who is in charge of ethics. We've worked closely with him.”

The outgoing director announced his resignation on his personal Twitter account Thursday, sharing an image of his resignation letter to the White House.

Shaub said he “wasn’t pushed out at all” from his position, but feels that with the current ethics rules he could not adequately do his job.

“I really always thought that the ethics rules were strong enough to protect the integrity of the government's operations,” said Shaub. “My recent experiences have convinced me that they need strengthening and, frankly, they convinced me that I've achieved all I can possibly achieve in this job.”

The outgoing director was appointed to serve a five year term by President Barack Obama in 2013. His resignation goes into effect on July 19.

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