A watchdog group has accused White House press secretary Jen Psaki of intentionally using her official position to disparage the competitor of her prospective future employer. The group, American for Public Trust, says Psaki’s actions warrant an investigation by the Office of Government Ethics and the Department of Justice.
Earlier this month reports announced Psaki plans to leave the White House for a new role with MSNBC.570592659-Psaki-Letter-Regarding-Ethics-and-Non-Federal-Employment
According to The Washington Examiner:
Psaki publicly disparaged MSNBC competitor Fox News during an appearance Thursday on the left-wing podcast Pod Save America, saying the cable news network “might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a b****” in reference to White House reporter Peter Doocy. The outgoing press secretary said the following day on Twitter she was not being critical of Doocy or any reporter at Fox News, but the watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust said the damage is already done.
“Jen Psaki’s reported efforts to secure a job with a major news organization while she serves as White House press secretary created a gauntlet of ethical obstacles,” PPT Director Michael Chamberlain told the Washington Examiner.
“Despite her statements to the contrary, she appears to be willing to simply plow through without any regard to these additional obligations,” Chamberlain said. “Her latest — the demeaning of Fox News, a competitor of her prospective employer, while seeming to act in her official capacity — appears to be a misuse of her official position. Under the circumstances, it’s hard to see how the American public would not perceive the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
“In order to restore public trust and live up to Ms. Psaki’s own commitment to transparency and engagement, we are calling upon you to investigate whether Ms. Psaki violated her ethical duties, either in her remarks regarding Fox News or in her conduct while negotiating non-federal employment more generally,” the watchdog said in the letter.
The watchdog group also requested the White House release all records pertaining to Psaki’s job negotiations.
Multiple ethics experts have raised concerns over Psaki’s job change.
“There are some things a press officer might normally participate in that do directly affect the financial interests of a media outlet, such as deciding which outlets get credentialed to participate in White House briefings or giving an exclusive to one outlet, so I’m guessing they’re requiring her to recuse from any of those types of activities,” Walter Shaub, former President Barack Obama’s ethics chief said.