July 12, 2018

Public Citizen Files Second Conflicts of Interest Complaint Against OMB Associate Director Joseph Grogan

Statement of Craig Holman, Ph.D., Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: On March 22, Public Citizen sent a complaint to the ethics officer of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expressing concern that the appointment of Joseph Grogan, former lobbyist for Gilead Sciences, Inc., to oversee OMB’s health programs posed a conflict of interest and potential violation of ethics rules. President Donald Trump’s own ethics executive order prohibits former lobbyists from overseeing the “same specific issue areas” they had lobbied in the previous two years. Public Citizen received no response from OMB’s ethics officer.

Today, Public Citizen filed a second conflict of interest complaint against Joseph Grogan, Associate Director of Health Programs for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Months ago, Public Citizen warned OMB’s ethics officer of the potential conflicts of interest inherent in the appointment of Joseph Grogan as associate director of health programs. The appointment appeared to run afoul of Trump’s own ethics executive order that restricts the appointment of a former lobbyist to an official position overseeing the “same specific issue areas” lobbied in the previous two years. Such a conflict of interest could set up a situation in which the former clients exert undue influence over the public official.

The warning was ignored, and now Grogan is in the midst of a new scandal in which he collaborated in his official capacity with a drug company to develop a cancer treatment therapy, the same therapy his former employer, Gilead Sciences, Inc., was pursuing when Grogan was their lobbyist and continues to pursue today. Meanwhile, Grogan failed to inform OMB of the potential conflicts of interest until the collaboration came to a close.

Public Citizen again requests that the OMB ethics officer examine whether Joseph Grogan is in violation of paragraph 7 of Trump’s own ethics executive order prohibiting a former lobbyist from overseeing “any particular matter on which [the lobbyist] lobbied within 2 years before the date of appointment” as well as paragraph 6 of the executive order which prohibits officials from participating in “any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to [the official’s] former employer.”

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