Trump does his hires no favors: The ordeal of an ethical public servant

Mar 21, 2017 by

Image result for Robert S. Eitel photosThis is a story of no good deed going unpunished. Robert S. Eitel did everything you’d want a public servant to do. An attorney in the Education Department of the George W. Bush administration, he was contacted in December about coming on board in a temporary capacity to provide guidance to the new administration. (So-called “landing” squads came on before the inauguration. Thereafter, they were referred to as members of the “beachhead” team, people hired for 120 days.) According to sources familiar with his situation, Eitel explained at the time that he was employed by a for-profit education company, Bridgepoint, and told the department he would need to talk to the department ethics officer before coming on board to determine what he could and could not do.

He was approached again in January and proactively consulted with the ethics officer before he accepted a temporary spot on the beachhead team. He spoke with the ethics officer designated by the department and was walked through the ethics issues applicable to his post.

He started on Feb. 13. That month, he met with the ethics officer no less than three times — on the 14th, 16th and 21st, according to sources not authorized to speak on the record. All employees, whether permanent or temporary, must recuse themselves from any particular matter involving an employer going back two years. Eitel did so but went further than that. He agreed to recuse himself from any matters relating to “gainful employment regulation” — that is, regulation of the for-profit industry and certificate programs from non-profit institutions. (Ironically, Eitel is known as someone in the education field who favors regulation of for-profits, but his voice won’t be heard at the table.)

Source: Trump does his hires no favors: The ordeal of an ethical public servant – The Washington Post

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