'Dusty' Ethics

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?