The Hill: Watchdog files ethics complaint against Trump's DHS pick

Max Greenwood
Nov 16, 2017
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A watchdog group has filed an ethics complaint alleging that Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump's nominee for Homeland Security secretary, has been guided through her Senate confirmation process by a consultant representing clients with business before the Department of Homeland Security.

The complaint, sent to White House chief of staff John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Office of Government Ethics acting Director David Apol on Monday, expresses concern with Nielsen's decision to accept the services of Thad Bingel, a former lobbyist and co-founder of the Command Group, a lobbying firm that provides "full spectrum solutions related to safety, security, and intelligence."

"It appears that Nielsen has been guided through the confirmation process by an individual whose clients have hundreds of millions in contracts before the agency she has been nominated to lead," the complaint reads.

"This implicates several potential violations of federal laws and regulations. It also offends common sense notions of the meaning of conflicts of interest."

That Bingel is helping guide Nielsen through her Senate confirmation could mean that, if she becomes Homeland Security secretary, she could direct government contracts toward the consultant's clients, according to the Campaign Legal Center complaint.

"The gratitude that Nielsen will inevitably feel towards Bingel as a result of his valuable gift of personal services will afford him preferential access on behalf of his clients, both now and in the future," it reads.

"Their work together preparing for the Senate confirmation hearing also affords Bingel extensive access to Nielsen, something any lobbyist with interests affected by DHS would desire to have."

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