Larry Noble Statement: Ivanka Trump Role in the White House

Mar 29, 2017
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Today, Larry Noble, senior director, regulatory reform programs and general counsel at CLC, released the following statement reacting to press reports about Ivanka Trump's new White House role:

"Ivanka Trump’s announcement that she has 'heard the concerns' about her serving  as a volunteer advisor in the White House and 'will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees,' is at least a nod to the very legitimate ethics concerns that have been raised.

However, her statement does not necessarily mean she is going to seriously address those ethics concerns. Not all federal employees are subject to the same ethics rules and which rules are applicable are generally tied to an employee’s pay level. By not being paid, Ms. Trump may be attempting to limit which rules apply her, even though her position and power will be far from that of your average federal employee.

Her statement suggests she will follow the same rules she earlier said she would voluntarily follow when she claimed not to be an employee. Does this mean she will not file a public financial disclosure report?  It does seem to mean that she will still not divest her business nor put it in a blind trust. Rather, it is likely her business will remain in a trust run by family members, with her having access to information about how it is doing and her being able to ultimately reap the financial benefits when she leaves the government. While the ethics rules she is willing to subject herself to may require her to recuse herself from involvement with matters that directly involve her company, does she intend to be involved with broader government rules and policies involving such subjects as trade, corporate taxes, business policies, manufacturing, retail sale and employee rights, which will affect her business interests?  If so, she is still going to be subject to numerous conflict of interest issues.

If Ms. Trump not only heard, but also understood, the ethics concerns expressed by many, she will abide by the principles and goals of the ethics rules designed for the high-level position she will hold in the U.S. government, regardless of her not being paid."

On March 24, CLC co-authored a letter expressing deep concern about the propoed arrangement for Ms. Trump to work as an unpaid employee with no title or salary.

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