Why Did Walter Shaub Resign? The Federal Ethics Director's Departure Is Making Waves

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Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub Jr. resigned from his post on Thursday. The now-former director has long been vocally opposed to many of the Trump administration's actions, including the president's refusal to give up his business holdings that many believe constitute a conflict of interest with his public office. Shaub cited issues with the "current situation" as his reason for leaving, but has not expanded on his rationale beyond that.

Upon leaving his office, Shaub is going on to join the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization of lawyers located in Washington D.C. According to an announcement from the organization that was released on Thursday, he will serve as the organization's Senior Director of Ethics.

Shaub's resignation letter stated that it will go into effect on July 19. In a release from the Campaign Legal Center, which he posted to Twitter, Staub provided a brief explanation for his leaving:

In working with the current administration, it has become clear to me that we need improvements to the existing ethics program. I look forward to working toward that aim at Campaign Legal Center, as well as working on ethics reforms at all levels of government.

The letter also praised his staff and explained what he gained from his time serving in his office:

The great privilege and honor of my career has been to lead [The Office of Government Ethics'] staff and the community of ethics officials in the federal executive branch. I am grateful for the efforts of this dedicated and patriotic assembly of public servants and I am proud to have served with them.

In addition to his time with the Trump administration, Shaub also served under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Had he not resigned, Shaub's five-year term in office would have ended in January next year.

The Office of Government Ethics is an independent agency of the executive branch that aims to help government officials avoid conflicts of interest. It has played a prominent role in the Trump administration, as the president has substantial global business dealings that Shaub believed are cause for ethical concern. Once taking office, many of Trump's appointments within his cabinet were filled with wealthy business people, potential cause for further concern.

The OGE does not have the authority to discipline government officers, rather it offers recommendations to the White House and presents potential ethical conflicts.

One outcome of Shaub's resignation may prove to be particularly impactful down the road. By vacating his office, the now-former director is giving Trump the power to appoint his replacement in the OGE. It will be interesting to see how closely the new director monitors the White House.