Insuring government officials, especially the executive branch, observe and comply with conflict of interest rules is crucial to our democracy. Exceedingly so when there is nepotism at work.
Ivanka Trump must file financial disclosures and is barred from participating in matters related to the Trump family business because of her White House role, the Office of Government Ethics said in a letter released Monday.
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tom Carper of Delaware requested information about ethics rules the first daughter must follow. At the time, Trump had secured a West Wing office space and was in the process of gaining a security clearance and government-issued communications devices, though she did not yet hold a formal position in the White House.
Her attorney had said Trump would adhere to the same ethics and records-retention rules that apply to government employees, so the senators asked in their March 29 letter how the ethics watchdog would ensure she did so. Ivanka Trump has since become an unpaid assistant to her father, President Donald Trump, though she has not filed paperwork with OGE about that move.
OGE Director Walter Shaub Jr. said in his reply, which was dated April 25 but released Monday by the senators, that Ivanka Trump must file disclosures within 30 days of her appointment about her financial interests and those of husband Jared Kushner and their children. The White House can grant two extensions up to 45 days each. She must also file periodic transaction reports, an annual financial disclosure report and a termination disclosure report.
Shaub said conflict of interest rules bar senior White House appointees “from participating personally and substantially in particular matters directly and predictably affecting their financial interests.” Staff members generally avoid those issues by recusing themselves from certain issues, Shaub said. OGE will review Trump’s disclosures after the White House files them.
“After the report is revised, OGE seeks information about how the White House is addressing any potential conflicts of interest identified during the review process,” Shaub said. “OGE then makes a determination regarding apparent compliance with financial disclosure and conflict of interest rules and either certifies or declines to certify the financial disclosure report.”
He said the White House must provide ethics training and make sure Trump complies with rules to avoid conflicts.