Reforming Government Ethics in the Age of Trump
President Donald Trump’s decision to keep control of his business empire despite apparent conflicts of interest is but one of a number of ethical controversies that have made headlines since Inauguration Day one year ago. As informal guardrails that constrain self-dealing by those in power fall away, what can be done to shore up federal ethics laws to give the public confidence that their leaders will put the interests of the American people first?
This panel reviewed the most significant gaps that exist in our system of federal ethics regulation, considered the special challenges that accompany any effort to regulate the president’s conduct in office, and debated the most promising ideas for reform.
This program was produced by The Brennan Center for Justice in partnership with the NYU John Brademas Center and hosted by NYU Washington, DC.
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Kimberly Atkins, Chief Washington Reporter/Columnist, Boston Herald
Kimberly Atkins is the chief Washington reporter and columnist for the Boston Herald, where focuses her coverage on the White House, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. She is also a recurring guest host for C-SPAN’s morning call-in show “Washington Journal,” where she interviews lawmakers, public policy experts and journalists about the issues on Capitol Hill.
Kimberly rejoined the Herald’s staff in 2014 after previously helming paper’s State House and City Hall bureaus in Boston from 2004 to 2006, and also writing a freelance political column for the paper from 2012 to 2014. Prior to returning to the Herald, Kimberly served as the Washington bureau chief for the Dolan Company newspapers, a group of legal and business publications, where she focused primarily on covering the Supreme Court. She has also worked as a staff writer at the Boston Globe and the Journal News in Westchester County, New York.
Before launching her journalism career, she was a litigation attorney in Boston. Kimberly is a native of Michigan, and a graduate of Wayne State University, Boston University’s School of Law and College of Communication, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Kathleen Clark, Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law
Kathleen Clark works in the areas of legal ethics, government ethics, the law of whistleblowing, and national security law. Her academic writing has been cited in hundreds of articles and books and has been excerpted in legal ethics textbooks. She has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, National Law Journal, Government Executive and The Hill, and her analysis has appeared in leading newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Economist, Financial Times, Time, Newsweek, National Review and Mother Jones.
She is licensed to practice law in Washington, DC, where she serves on the Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee of the D.C. Bar. When she served as an ethics lawyer for the District of Columbia government, she wrote an Ethics Manual for the District’s 32,000 employees. Clark served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and clerked for Federal District Judge Harold H. Greene. She is a board member of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers and is an Associate Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Principles of Government Ethics.
Clark was named the John S. Lehman Research Professor and Israel Treiman Faculty Fellow at Washington University, and has taught at the University of Michigan, Cornell University, Utrecht University and the University of Economics and Law in Vietnam. She has led anti-corruption and ethics workshops in Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovenia, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Kosovo, Nigeria, Poland, Russia & Venezuela, and has conducted in-person and web-based ethics training for federal, state and local government agencies. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Physics & Philosophy from Yale College, studied Russian in the Soviet Union and Spanish in Guatemala and earned a J.D. from Yale Law School.
Walter Shaub, Senior Director, Ethics, Campaign Legal Center and former Director of the Office of Government Ethics
Walter M. Shaub, Jr., former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, joined Campaign Legal Center as Senior Director, Ethics in July 2017.
On January 8, 2013, President Obama appointed Walter M. Shaub, Jr., as Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE). He was sworn into office January 9, 2013 and announced on July 6, 2017 that he will resign from the position effective July 19, 2017.
Prior to his appointment, Shaub was Deputy General Counsel of OGE, a position he held since 2008. In addition, he served as a supervisory attorney at OGE from 2006 to 2008. From 2004 to 2006, he worked as an attorney with the law firm Shaw, Bransford, Veilleux and Roth, P.C., where he focused on federal employment law. Previously, Shaub served as a staff attorney at several federal agencies, including OGE from 2001 to 2004, the Central Office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from 2000 to 2001, the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1998 to 2000, and the VA’s Baltimore-Washington Regional Counsel’s office from 1997 to 1998.
He earned a B.A. in History from James Madison University and a J.D. from American University Washington College of Law.
Daniel I. Weiner, Senior Counsel, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
Daniel I. Weiner serves as Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, where he works on money in politics and other democracy reform issues, including redistricting and fair courts. He is the author or co-author of several nationally-recognized reports, including Stronger Parties, Stronger Democracy: Rethinking Reform and Citizens United Five Years Later, as well as a recent law review article, Electoral Integrity in Campaign Finance Law. Mr. Weiner writes and comments regularly on election law issues, including for the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, the Daily Beast, U.S. News & World Report, Time, Politico, and The Hill, among other outlets.
Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Mr. Weiner served as Senior Counsel to Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub at the Federal Election Commission, including during her term as Chair of the Commission in 2013. In this role, Mr. Weiner assisted the Commissioner with her duties in managing the agency, and advised her on a broad array of issues under the First Amendment, the Federal Election Campaign Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. Before his service at the FEC, Mr. Weiner was an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Jenner & Block, LLP. At Jenner, Mr. Weiner counseled a wide variety of clients and litigated cases at the trial and appellate levels, including as a member of the firm’s Election Law and Redistricting practice group. He also maintained an active pro bono practice focused particularly on LGBT rights.
Mr. Weiner received his J.D. degree cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2005. He was an Executive Editor for the Harvard Civil Rights – Civil Liberties Law Review and co-Articles Editor for the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender. After law school, Mr. Weiner clerked for the Honorable Diana E. Murphy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 2001.