Hero

Herb Dempsey

When I was younger we would hide under the covers and listen to the radio. Our heroes were the Green Hornet, Tom Mix and an assortment of other radio heroes.  Then came the movies and John Wayne shaped some values and fought the enemies of Good.  Wayne became Yoda and the real world finally drowned out fantasy. Now the firmament is filled with Oligarchies and Corporations and little people get trampled.  Banks gobble up the peoples’ houses and paychecks shrink and jobs that once paid $26.00 an hour are moved to Mexico where they re-emerge at $3.00.

In my interrupted search for heroes I may have found another ranking up there with John Wayne.  His name is Walter M. Shaub, Jr. and I am sure his family is very proud of him.  Since 2012 Shaub has been appointed to head the United States Office of Government Ethics.  Since a couple of months ago he has become among the most intellectually nimble thinkers I have ever watched.  If you like Twitter you may like the very bold series as Shaub and his staff tackle President-Elect Trump and work to challenge the thinking of the Billionaire on why he can’t do business as usual.  When Trump’s business-as-usual attitude seemed to be inflexible the OGE clarified the ground rules surrounding ethics and integrity governing the behavior of those who serve the people in government though they may have been billionaires (or even just had middle class assets) before moving over to public service. The OGE website explains: "The public may lose confidence in the integrity of Government if it perceives that an employee's Government work is influenced by personal interests or by payments from an outside source. An executive branch employee's Government work may have the potential to benefit the employee personally, affect the financial interests of the employee's family, or involve individuals or organizations with which the employee has some past, present, or future connection away from the employee's Government job."

So there are two sides to this issue: either the President (and family) will still have lots of money and property and eyebrows will continue to be raised or “an employee may be disqualified from working on a particular Government matter.”  That gets really sticky when the 'employee' has holdings in dozens and dozens of different countries.  The news outlets covered the various twists and turns as each side in the discussion spun and re-spun what “trust” and “integrity” means in public servants.  Finally, the ethics folks explained once more what they felt was President-Elect Trump’s only options. And now Rachel Maddow has opened the argument and explained that OGE provided on Twitter the Office’s materials on Conflict of Interest detailed in a pamphlet titled “Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch.”  The Twitter feed then went dark.  If you had searched on the URL maintained by OGE you would have found a three page document posted on Friday, 12/09/2016.  “Plan for Shutting Down Operations in the Event of a Lapse of Appropriations”  In that plan, our hero, Walter Shaub can’t be furloughed because he is appointed by the president.  So,  here we are,  “Bring it on, Mr. Trump.”

Some additional reading:
Government Ethics Chief blasts Trump business plan.

Ethics watchdogs dismiss Trump business plan.

Trump's conflicts of interest put democracy at risk.

Ethics official denounces Trump’s plan for business.

Head of government ethics office calls Donald Trump business plans wholly inadequate.