Huffington Post: Mike Pence's Man in the Swamp
Fourteen months into Trump's presidency, the idea that he would fulfill his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” is the stuff of black humor. His failure to sell his real estate business—while technically legal because the president is exempt from conflict-of-interest statutes—has cast suspicion over nearly everything he does. It is impossible to tell whether a decision has been motivated by policy or financial self-interest or some combination of the two. This uncertainty undermines public trust in government—and the dynamic is far from limited to Trump.
In late February, I went back to Pence’s office for clarification about Ayers’ ownership of C5. A couple of weeks later, after repeated requests, I received an emailed statement from Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary. The statement is notable for its elaborate use of tenses: “As Nick Ayers’ May financial disclosure will reflect, he sold and relinquished one hundred percent of his ownership of C5 including all stock, ownership interest, and managerial control. Additionally, no member of his family nor existing or former employee will have any control, or interest in it. This was all overseen and completed by White House ethics’ rules and within their timeline.”
Farah did not provide the date of the sale or any supporting documentation in response to multiple follow-up questions. The statement “suggests he may not have sold his business yet,” said Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. “He should be able to show proof that he divested himself from the business. … A carefully worded statement by a press secretary about what he will do in the future does not resolve any of the issues.’’