Executive Branch Ethics and Financial Conflicts of Interest: Disqualification

Source: Cynthia Brown, Congressional Research Service, CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10250, January 31, 2019

Newly proposed legislation in the 116thCongress concerns government ethics reform, including conflicts of interest among executive branch officials.Federal officials have a basic duty not to allow private gain to influence their government service, which includes “not hold[ing] financial interests that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty.” Federal statutes, as well as a code of conduct for executive branch employees, make this principle part of a federal regulatory scheme intended to prevent officials from benefiting personally from their offices. The current federal statutory scheme regulating conflicts between an official’s personal financial interests and his or her official duties has three prongs: disclosure, disqualification, and divestiture (i.e., a 3-D system). This discussion of the disqualification requirement, also known as recusal,is the second in a three-part series examining conflicts of interest in the executive branch…..