Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wants Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to hold a hearing with outgoing Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub on the need for stronger ethics rules.
Shaub announced his resignation from the Office of Government Ethics on Thursday and said the “current legal situation has made it clear that the ethics program needs to be stronger than it is.”
Now, Cummings wants Gowdy to ask Shaub to appear before the Oversight Committee to outline the challenges he faced throughout his more than four years leading the ethics office.
“The American people deserve to hear from this experienced ethics expert about the challenges he faced in his position and the reforms he believes would strengthen our program of government ethics,” Cummings wrote in a letter to Gowdy on Thursday. “Strengthening and improving our ethics laws and government ethics program should be an issue with wide bipartisan support.”
Gowdy assumed the chairmanship last month from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who resigned from Congress at the end of June. When he took the gavel, Gowdy said the Office of Government Ethics was “squarely within” the Oversight Committee’s jurisdiction — a statement Cummings said furthers his belief that Shaub should testify before the panel.
“I agree — and believe that a public hearing to hear from Director Shaub would be productive and would fall squarely within our committee’s mission,” he said.
The Office of Government Ethics was tasked with helping Trump administration officials and wealthy Cabinet members navigate the process of eliminating potential conflicts of interest before joining the administration.
The task proved challenging, as Shaub repeatedly clashed with President Trump over his own business dealings and criticized the way the president handled conflicts of interest with his businesses.
In January, Trump unveiled a plan to turn over management of his business empire to his sons, but Shaub said the plan was “meaningless” since the president wasn’t divesting his assets.
Former President Barack Obama appointed Shaub to serve a five-year term as head of the Office of Government Ethics in 2013.