A government ethics watchdog group is demanding an investigation into White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for “misusing her position when she publicly disparaged Fox News, a competitor of her reported future employer.”
Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) is demanding the White House, the Justice Department and the U.S. Office of Government Ethics probe alleged conflicts of interest with Psaki taking a job with MSNBC while continuing her job as President Joe Biden’s spokesperson.
“Jen Psaki on multiple occasions has touted the Biden Administration’s commitment to not just meet the minimum requirements with respect to ethics and transparency but to exceed the achievements of every one of its predecessors,” Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust, said.
“Her pursuit of outside employment presents the perfect opportunity for her and the administration to demonstrate that commitment and take a step toward restoring the American public’s trust in its government.
“They don’t appear to be off to a great start in that regard but complying with our requests would represent a move in the right direction,” he said.
PPT wrote in their demand letter:
“’On April 14, 2022, Ms. Psaki engaged in an apparent misuse of her official position when she publicly disparaged Fox News, a competitor of her reported future employer.
We call upon you to investigate whether Ms. Psaki misused her position and created the appearance of an impermissible conflict of interest.
“We also call upon you to release records relating to Ms. Psaki’s recusals and negotiations for nonfederal employment.
“Similar records relating to other government officials are routinely released under FOIA.
“There should not be a two-tiered system of government ethics that subjects prominent White House Officials to a lower standard of scrutiny than other average public servants.”
PPT issued a statement that said:
Today, federal ethics watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust requested an investigation into possible ethics violations by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Ms. Psaki’s statements and actions in the wake of widespread media reporting that she has been in negotiations to leave federal service for a role with a major media outlet appear inconsistent with her own promise to set “an example of engagement and transparency.”
Despite the reporting and recusal requirements federal employees must comply with while in negotiations for outside employment as well as her own statements regarding those obligations, Ms. Psaki does not appear to have altered her behavior with respect to either her prospective employer or its competitors.
She has continued to brief reporters from the White House podium, including fielding inquiries from the organizations reportedly in a bidding war for her services.
In addition, her comments on an April 14, 2022, recording of Pod Save America disparaging Fox News, a competitor of her reported prospective employer, could constitute a misuse of her official position.
During the podcast, Ms. Psaki was introduced by her title of White House Press Secretary and answered questions relating to President Biden and other aspects of her official duties.
When asked about Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy, she declared, “He works for a network that provides people with questions that, nothing personal to any individual including Peter Doocy, but might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a b***h.”
These actions could create a potential conflict of interest or the perception of a possible conflict of interest in the eyes of the American public.
In keeping with the administration’s promises, expressed by Ms. Psaki in her role as White House Press Secretary, to be both the most ethical and most transparent in history, PPT requests an investigation into whether Ms. Psaki misused her position and created the appearance of an impermissible conflict of interest as well as for the release of records relating to Ms. Psaki’s recusals and negotiations for future non-federal employment.