In a letter sent to Congress Saturday, Walter Shaub Jr., head of the Office of Government Ethics, expressed alarm that President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for cabinet positions have not been fully vetted, warning they are potentially violating conflict of interest laws.
“As OGE’s Director, the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me,” Walter Shaub wrote in a letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) according to The Huffington Post.
“This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews,” he added. “More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.”
This is the first time in the four decades OGE has existed in which potential cabinet picks had gone before the Senate before being fully vetted, Shaub wrote.
“This normally intensive process has been further complicated by both the Senate hearing schedule and the announcement of nominees prior to consulting OGE for an evaluation of any ethics issues. In the past, the ethics work was fully completed prior to the announcement of nominees in the overwhelming majority of cases,” he wrote.
Schumer said in a statement that the letter “makes crystal clear that the transition team’s collusion with Senate Republicans to jam through these Cabinet nominees before they’ve been thoroughly vetted is unprecedented.”
Officials at the OGE also warned the transition team they needed to consult with the office before putting assets in a blind trust and that it could block such an arrangement if the office did not feel the trustees were truly “independent,” according to the report.
The new development comes ahead of a week in which there will be a flurry of hearings for Trump’s cabinet picks. There will be hearings on six nominees on Wednesday alone.
Donald Trump himself faces numerous questions about his business ties and extensive potential conflicts of interest.
Trump refused to release his tax returns during the presidential campaign and has continued to do so even after winning the presidency.