Report: White House Ethics Office OKs Anonymous Gifts to Staffers’ Legal Funds

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics has reportedly altered a longstanding internal policy prohibiting White House staff members with legal defense funds from accepting anonymous donations. Walter Shaub, the former director of the OGE who stepped down last July, told Politico in an article published late Wednesday that President Trump’s administration appeared to have quietly reverted to a 1993 OGE guidance document that approved of anonymous donations. That policy has long remained intact on paper, though the ethics office always advised staffers’ attorneys to steer clear of anonymous donations, according to the report. Upon leaving the office in July, Shaub said he added a note to the original document stressing that internal practice diverged from the 1993 guidance—a note that he says has since been removed. Instead, he said, that note was replaced by a statement that the original 1993 guidance “has not changed.” “It’s very depressing,” Shaub told Politico. “It’s unseemly for the ethics office to be doing something sneaky like that.” The White House denied Shaub’s claims after Politico published its story late Wednesday, saying the former OGE director is just trying to “feel relevant.”