Some of you may have heard that Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, former CIA
Administrator, was indicted on February 13 for allegedly accepting
bribes of meals and lavish vacations in exchange for doling out
government contracts to California businessman and Republican campaign
contributor Brent Wilkes.
In my testimony [pdf]
before the House Government Reform Committee, also on February 13, I
cited one of the major problems contributing to ethics abuses in the
executive branch is the lack of ethics oversight. Responsibility for
monitoring and enforcing ethics rules are left to some 6,000 individual
ethics officers scattered among all the various executive agencies.
Many of these ethics officers are poorly trained, if trained at all.
What is less known is that "Dusty" was one of those ethics officers.
Sad tales of executive branch ethics officers embroiled in scandals
because of lack of oversight are not unique to Dusty. Sue Ellen
Wooldrige, former assistant attorney general in charge of environmental
protection, dated and now lives with J. Steven Griles, former deputy
interior secretary. Griles is under federal investiagtion for receiving
payments from Jack Abramoff’s clients while they had business pending
before Griles’ own department. For part of that time, Wooldridge served
as an excecutive branch ethics officer – advising Griles, no less.
If that’s not enough, Wooldridge, Griles and a lobbyist for
ConocoPhillips last year bought a $1 million vacation home together –
just months before Wooldridge approved a consent decree giving
ConocoPhillips more time to pay millions of dollars in fines and meet
pollution cleanup rules for some of its refineries. You guessed it: the
vacation home purchase by the three was also approved by another
executive branch ethics officer.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?