CNBC: Rex Tillerson's favorable tax deal may have made a year in Trump's orbit worth it


Ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may have gotten more than he bargained for in his 14 months trying to keep up with a president full of surprises in Donald Trump. But the former Exxon Mobil CEO leaves the top diplomatic post with his beneficial tax deals on stock holdings that amounted to more than $200 million.

Tillerson, like other Trump officials with large financial holdings, was required to avoid conflicts of interest in stocks when assuming office because of federal law. There's nothing untoward about it — the law is designed to allow private citizens to assume important public roles without conflicts of interest related to their personal wealth. It gives Cabinet members the option of selling stocks on a tax-deferred basis as the cleanest way to remove conflicts, and then they can invest those proceeds in diversified holdings such as mutual funds or Treasury bonds.


"It wouldn't be fair to say Tillerson saw a one-year stop at the State Department as a way to grow his fortune," said Corey Goldstone, spokesperson at the nonpartisan watchdog organization Campaign Legal Center, where Walter M. Shaub, Jr. — the former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, who was openly critical of Trump's approach to business conflicts in the early days of his administration — is now a senior director of ethics. "To the contrary, Tillerson seemed to act in good faith to reach an agreement divesting himself from his holdings prior to entering the administration," Goldstone said. "That basic compliance is what we should expect from all public servants."

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