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Trump’s New Ethics Chief Wants Lower Standards

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July 28, 2017 by Ed Brayton 57 Comments

Here’s the least surprising news ever: Trump’s pick to replace Walter Schaub as head of the Office of Government Ethics, David J. Apol, is an advocate of lower ethical standards for government officials that would all but guarantee more conflicts of interest and more corruption.

(Love this image)

David J. Apol, named by President Trump last week as the new head of the Office of Government Ethics, has repeatedly clashed with colleagues over his career at the agency as he sought to roll back or loosen ethics requirements on federal employees, including those in the White House, three former senior officials at the agency said…

Mr. Apol has argued that the agency is often too rigid in interpreting conflict-of-interest laws, they said.

As recently as this spring, Mr. Apol had a disagreement with Walter M. Shaub Jr., the departing director, when Mr. Apol suggested that Derek T. Kan, then a general manager at Lyft, the car-sharing service, should not be required to sell his vested stock options in the company before he accepted a job at the Department of Transportation as the head of policy.

Mr. Shaub said he overruled Mr. Apol, who has served as general counsel of the agency since 2014, arguing that many policy matters now before the Department of Transportation could affect Lyft’s financial fate — including possible actions related to self-driving cars and the car-sharing industry.
“It was so immediately obviously crazy,” Mr. Shaub said. He said Mr. Apol’s general approach to government ethics was “loosey-goosey.”

This is so completely predictable. Donald Trump could not possibly care any less about ethics. Everything he does is for his own benefit, one way or the other. All that talk about how he was only on the side of the people and he couldn’t be bought by special interests because he’s already rich was just a line of fake populist B.S. Anyone who has paid any attention to his career can tell you that. He’ll lie, cheat, steal and do anything else that is unethical or illegal as long as it helps give him money or power.

There are two kinds of populism, one fake and one authentic. An authentic populism is serious about the ways in which the wealthy and powerful maintain their power and wealth at the expense of everyone else and manipulate our laws and our political process to that end. Trump’s populism is fake. He rails against special interests while serving them. His populism is one that exploits people’s fears through demagoguery, not one that actually has anyone else’s interests in mind. And ethics requirements only get in the way of his continued exploitation.

Of course he does.

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I wonder if Trump will wiretap the media... or use the irs to target enemies... or unmask political foes... assassinate juvenile citizens... lie about collecting metadata... or run guns to foreign criminal cartels... or send an ambassador into a radical Islamic stronghold... and lie about it after because he was sitting on his thumb... etc.

He may as well... Obama did.

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