Snarky White House Response Emblematic of Ethics Indifference
- April 21, 2022
Reactions to questions don’t match pronouncements of commitment to ethics and transparency
Today, Protect the Public’s Trust reacted to the White House’s frivolous response to a reporter’s inquiry regarding the watchdog’s letter concerning possible ethics violations involving Jen Psaki’s outside employment negotiations.
When reached by a reporter from The Hill regarding the request for investigation, a White House spokesperson responded, “What’s ‘Protect the Public’s Trust?’ Is that an insurance company?” To answer directly, we are a group of retired and former public servants dedicated to the idea that public service is a public trust. We help ensure our nation fulfills the promise of a government free from conflicts of interest and that operates without political interference or favoritism by exposing mayhem by government officials and who know some things because we’ve seen some things.
At least one of our complaints has triggered an Inspector General investigation. A Hatch Act complaint we filed against a venerated federal official was deemed a “close call.” From a perusal of information in the public domain, as well as some things we can’t share (yet), it is clear that our questions are taken seriously by serious people in government.
But this is not about us.
This is about a wholly unserious response to a serious inquiry. For an administration that continually pronounces itself the most ethical and the most transparent in history, the evidence to support those proclamations appears lacking.
PSAKI’S CHALLENGES WITH ETHICS: Protect the Public’s Trust is far from the only ethics watchdog that has expressed concerns about the manner in which Ms. Psaki has conducted her search for non-federal employment, including veterans of administrations of all stripes.
- No less than President Obama’s ethics chief has criticized her for her statements about Hunter Biden’s art sale.
- The Office of Special Counsel found late last year that she had violated the Hatch Act.
- Promotion of censorship by social media companies over perceived “misinformation” yielded additional scrutiny.
ETHICS APATHY APPEARS INFECTIOUS: An earlier press inquiry involving a PPT complaint at the Department of Energy elicited a similarly flippant, though more lengthy, response from that agency. As we noted earlier, that response “suggests that leadership at the Department of Energy believes that laws are for the little people, and they have better things to do than comply with the legal and ethical commitments designed to protect the interests of the American public.”
“At a time of a confluence of crises – a global pandemic, high fuel prices, skyrocketing inflation, out-of-control violent crime, a shooting war in Europe involving a nuclear power, a generation of children suffering from learning loss and mental health deterioration – never has the American public’s trust in its government been more important,” declared Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “But the level of trust continues to plummet, a situation that is certainly not helped when the actions of powerful and prominent officials don’t appear to match their words. Protect the Public’s Trust will continue to pursue answers the American public deserves.”