On Tuesday, a coalition of good-government advocates sent a letter to the White House calling upon President Joe Biden to appoint a single, senior official to oversee, enforce, and communicate about the administration’s ethics program.
The Biden administration has taken significant steps to address ethics issues, from the president’s early executive order requiring appointees to take an ethics pledge to the resumption of disclosures of White House visitor logs and the president’s tax returns. But recent reports about potential conflicts of interest — specifically, certain administration officials’ recent financial ties to rideshare companies that are joining in a partnership to provide free transportation to vaccination sites — have thrown a spotlight on an ethics accountability gap that could be filled quickly and effectively.
The senior official would be responsible for implementing ethics and transparency rules, as well as Biden’s executive order. “Without ‘public diplomacy’ on these matters,” the organization wrote in the letter, “the public is more likely to draw negative inferences about the interests guiding public decision-making.”