Monday, January 9, 2017

Amoral Republicans Reject Abiding by Ethical Standards in Nomination Process.

I was surprised to find an informative political article at TeenVogue by Lily Herman about the Republican disregard for ethical standards when it comes ramming their agenda and Trump's upcoming Cabinet nominations through Congress.  After a little reading around I discovered it wasn't a one off.  It was a welcome whiff of optimism to think that a young people's magazine like that is taking politics seriously.  Lets hope she helps inform some future activists.

This is followed by a related PBS News Hour special report on Trump nominees attempt to skirt ethics: "Some Trump nominees missing crucial ethics paperwork as confirmation hearings begin" and "Ethics agency has ‘great concern’ about confirmations before reviews are cleared."  If this concerns you please contact your Senator now - the hearing are happening and they need to hear from us.

Republicans Unwilling to Reschedule Trump's Cabinet Confirmation Hearings
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said 
Democrats asking for delays should "grow up." 
{I agree Democrats should grow up and finally stand up to the Republican bullies and absolutists!}

Lily Herman  |  JAN 9, 2017

In an unprecedented move, Republicans in Congress are starting the confirmation process for President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet-level members before several key government offices finish the necessary background and ethics checks for all the nominees. Now, Democrats are asking for delays since they are concerned that any relevant information that might be uncovered won’t be known BEFORE the formal nomination hearings (which are set to begin this week) take place.

Before the nominee makes their way to the Senate, however, there's typically a process of extreme vetting and background checks to ensure that there are no ethical or logistical concerns or conflicts of interest that could negatively impact how the person does that job. This is where Republican congressmen are trying to buck the trend by issuing numerous hearings on the schedule before the completed FBI and other background checks come back. 

This includes holding hearings for seven key positions in just three days, beginning on Tuesday, January 10.

According to Slate, Democrats and the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) have pointed out that moving the confirmation hearings so prematurely is unprecedented; OGE Director Walter Shaub even said that no nominee has ever moved to hearings before ethics reviews were completed since the ethics office was formed four decades ago, as doing so leads to "unknown or unresolved ethics issues" that don't come to light in time for formal scrutiny.

These concerns aren't unwarranted by any stretch; …

Other important recent stories by Lily Herman:

The Hearings for Trump’s Cabinet Picks Will Start TOMORROW

Even though the vetting process may not yet be complete for all the nominees.

JAN 9, 2017
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Donald Trump's "Border Wall" Is Going to Cost America — Not Mexico — $1 Billion
Contrary to his earlier promises, sources now say that Trump will ask Congress to pay the bill.

JAN 5, 2017
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
How Donald Trump "Stole" a Supreme Court Seat

Republicans allowed President Obama's SCOTUS nomination to expire.

JAN 3, 2017 
Some Trump nominees missing crucial ethics paperwork as confirmation hearings begin
January 9, 2017

Capitol Hill will be buzzing this week as President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees answer questions in Senate hearings. But as of last weekend, some nominees hadn’t finished turning in their paperwork or cleared their ethics reviews. Democrats are calling it a rush job and have threatened to slow down the process. Lisa Desjardins sits down with Judy Woodruff for more.

Ethics agency has ‘great concern’ about confirmations before reviews are cleared
BY LISA DESJARDINS  January 7, 2017 

The incoming president and the current federal office of ethics openly clashed Saturday, in a battle that sets up a heated debate over how much the Senate should know about cabinet nominees ahead of their hearings. …

The independent Office of Government Ethics expressed “great concern” that several of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees have not yet completed the required ethics review process or even filed any financial information but face confirmation hearings in the next week.
A Senate Democratic aide told NewsHour that four upcoming nominees have not cleared the ethics process yet: Ben Carson, Housing and Urban Development; Betsy DeVos, Education; John Kelly, Homeland Security; and Wilbur Ross, Commerce.

A Republican aide on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee confirmed the DeVos has not yet completed the OGE ethics process. Her hearing is one of the first, scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. …

The problems, the ethics chief wrote, have been the hearing schedule combined with a lack of timely information from nominees and the Trump team. “It has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.” He did not indicate which nominees have completed which portions of the process. …

Typically during the confirmation process, the ethics office writes reports outlining any possible ethics issues and steps the nominee agrees to take to resolve them.
But the ethics director implied his office has not had time to complete reviews yet because the Trump transition team did not “pre-clear” any potential nominees before announcing them publicly.

“In the past, the ethics work was fully completed prior to the announcement of nominees in the overwhelming majority of cases … and, therefore, there was no opportunity for undue influence on the independent ethics review process,” Shaub (Director, U.S. Office of Government Ethics) wrote. …

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