Trump taps career ethicist for acting OGE director

President Donald Trump on Friday tapped David Apol, a 30-year Office of Government Ethics veteran, to serve as its acting director.

Apol currently serves as the OGE’s general counsel. He took the role in 2014. Apol steps in for Walter Shaub, who left his post in early July, and replaces OGE Chief of Staff and Program Counsel Shelley Finlayson, who had temporarily stepped in following Shaub’s departure.

OGE said in a statement that Apol “is honored to continue his 30 years of service to the ethics community in this new role.”

Similar to his predecessor, Apol is a career ethicist.

Advertisement

Prior to serving as OGE’s general counsel, Apol worked as the chief counsel for administrative law at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. He also worked as the associate general counsel at OGE. Between 1992 and 2000, he was an ethics official for the Labor Department. He was a counsel for the Senate Ethics Committee from 1987 to 1992, and Apol also served as a judge advocate general officer in the Army.

Apol takes over the office of less than 80 FTEs, with a proposed fiscal 2018 budget of about $16 million.

OGE handles:

  • enforcement of ethical conduct standards for roughly 2.7 million employees.
  • oversight of more than 26,000 public and 380,000 confidential financial disclosure report filers.
  • education and training for more than 4,500 ethics officials.

Despite the agency’s small size, it’s made headlines thanks to public clashing between the administration and office under Shaub’s leadership, after Shaub issued a series of tweets and made public comments on potential conflicts of interest related to the president.

Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, told Federal News Radio in an earlier interview that engaging with media and the limelight wasn’t Shaub’s preference, nor will it likely be his successor’s choice.

“I would expect that the responsibility of the next OGE director will be quite a bit different than Walt’s,” Stier said. “I think the bigger challenge for them is going to be in continuing to process what is a very large workload with a very small team.”

The director position is presidentially-appointed, and part of the job’s responsibilities include guiding the office as it works to ensure government officials comply with government ethics standards.

“Whoever is running this agency over the next few months has extraordinary power to vet administration nominees that will determine the completion of the administration,” said Project On Government Oversight (POGO) Executive Director Danielle Brian, in a statement.

“We also hope OGE continues promoting the need for a stronger OGE and more robust ethics programs governmentwide,” Brian said.