Former Obama Ethics Chief Slams WH Adviser Hire as Unethical

Former Obama Ethics Chief Slams WH Adviser Hire as Unethical Former Obama Ethics Chief Slams WH Adviser Hire as Unethical The west of the White House is seen at sunset on November 5, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty)

By Solange Reyner | Thursday, 11 November 2021 03:55 PM

Walter Shaub, the ethics chief under former President Barack Obama, on Thursday suggested that White House staff going through "the revolving door from influence-peddling operations" isn't good for the country after the Biden administration announced it was adding Michael Czin as a senior adviser to the White House.

Czin currently works for the SKDK consulting firm, which was co-founded by former Biden campaign adviser Anita Dunn.

"Personnel is policy, and it's problematic when that personnel is swinging through the revolving door from influence-peddling operations," Shaub told Fox News in a Wednesday email. "It's all the more troubling when they don't even quit their outside jobs with those outfits.

"I hope he won't follow the path that Anita Dunn chose of coming in as a special government employee and accepting a salary below the threshold that triggers the requirement to file a public financial disclosure report; but the fact that he's only taking a leave of absence is cause for concern that this could be the plan — and if so, the public will have no way to gauge the extent of his conflicts of interest," Shaub continued. "It's not optimal."

Shaub on Wednesday tweeted that Czin's "leave of absence" from SKDK "doesn't get him out of filing a public disclosure" but that "coming on as a special government employee and setting his pay below the threshold at which public disclosure would apply may do it – and the leave of absence status may suggest that's happening. Yuck."

He also last month slammed the White House over Hunter Biden's art sales, describing them as a potential "vehicle for funneling cash to the first family" in exchange for influence. Shaub said the arrangement between the Biden administration and the art gallery whereby Hunter Biden is shielded by the gallery from knowing the identity of buyers was ineffective because there are loopholes in which Hunter Biden could become aware of the identity.

"No ethics program in the world that can be built around the head of state's staff working with a dealer to keep the public in the dark about the identities of individuals who pay vast sums to the leader's family member for subjectively priced items of no intrinsic value," he tweeted.

"If this were Trump, Xi or Putin, you'd have no doubt whatsoever that this creates a vehicle for funneling cash to the first family in exchange for access or favors," Shaub wrote, referring to Chinese and Russian presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

Hunter Biden on Tuesday outside of the Georges Bergès Gallery in New York that holds his paintings got testy when a reporter asked if he had gotten his laptop back after the FBI seized it in 2019.

"There's always a smart-ass in the bunch," he said.

Hunter Biden's wife, Melissa Cohen, then jokingly chimed in, "It doesn't exist."

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