It’s a requirement of taking a job in the White House.
During a Thursday morning Fox & Friends interview, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the financial disclosure process is “demoralizing” and discourages “qualified” people from taking jobs in the White House.
Conway also lamented “the paperwork that [they] have to put forward divesting assets” and “the different hoops [they] are to run through.”
Conway was responding to a question about a now-deleted tweet posted Wednesday night by the new White House Director of Communications, Anthony Scaramucci.
Despite being a publicly available document through the Office of Government Ethics, Scaramucci was furious that his financial disclosure form was “leaked” to Politico. In his tweet, he tagged White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, appearing to blame him for the “leak.”
On Thursday morning, Scaramucci gave a bizarre interview on CNN during which he seemed to further pin blame on Preibus.
According to Politico’s report on his financial disclosure, Scaramucci made $4.9 million from his ownership stake in SkyBridge, a hedge-fund he founded in 2005, in addition to more than $5 million between January 1, 2016, and the end of June, when he joined the Export-Import Bank.
Financial disclosure forms are required of anyone working in the White House to ensure that individuals do not act in ways that would allow them to profit from business ventures while serving the American people.
Scaramucci, a former Goldman Sachs executive, began the process of selling SkyBridge just before the inauguration. At the time, Scaramucci believed he would take a position in the White House as assistant to the president in the Office of Public Liaison. He lost after media reports about the motivations of the SkyBridge buyers, a Chinese conglomerate named HNA group, were brought into question. HNA Group is one of several Chinese firms that have recently spent billions on overseas acquisitions financed by debt, intricate deal structures and dubious ownerships. The SkyBridge sale has yet to close, pending regulatory approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment, which happens to be chaired by another Goldman Sachs alum, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The White House has battled with the Office of Government Ethics since before the inauguration. Like Scaramucci, President Donald Trump came into office with substantial personal wealth; Walter Shaub, Jr. urged a full divestment of his business or at least, putting his assets in a blind trust.
In the end, Trump handed the Trump Organization over to his two sons and placed his business in a trust that only he can access and pull money from at any time, without disclosing it to the public. When Trump’s own financial disclosures from the previous year were released, they revealed he was raking in cash from Mar-a-Lago, earning $37.2 million in income. His golf courses earned him a total of $288 million.
The administration’s failure to comply with ethics rules is ultimately why Shaub resigned. On the day of his resignation he told NPR, “The current situation has made it clear that the ethics program needs to be stronger than it is.”
Kellyanne Conway says filing basic ethics disclosure forms is ‘demoralizing’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.