CONTACT: Jenna Grande
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Washington – The FBI should investigate whether former Director of White House Information Technology Charles Herndon broke a key conflict of interest law by working on matters involving his former employer while holding restricted stock in the company, according to a request for investigation filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Prior to working in the government, Herndon worked for CSRA Inc., a major government contractor. Two documents, a limited waiver of ethics restrictions and a certificate of divestiture, show the White House expected that Herndon would work on matters related to CSRA. Both documents were intended to clear the way for him to do so based on a belief that he no longer had a financial interest in the company. However, Herndon did hold CSRA restricted stock, even though he had said in his financial disclosure that he forfeited his restricted stock. Herndon later acknowledged discovering that he still held the stock during some of his tenure at the White House, raising questions about whether he worked on CSRA-related matters while holding a financial interest in the company. A federal law prohibits executive branch employees from participating in government matters affecting their financial interests, and the waiver did not waive that law.
CREW also filed a Freedom of Information Act appeal today challenging the decision of the OGE to withhold additional information about the overlap between Herndon’s duties and his financial interest in CSRA.
“Herndon’s ownership of CSRA stock raises questions about whether he had a conflict of interest while working in the White House,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “There’s smoke here, and federal investigators need to find out if there is fire.”
Herndon is not the first official to have potentially violated the conflict of interest law. CREW previously filed complaints against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and former Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Initiatives Christopher Liddell for working on matters in which they had a financial interest.
“Herndon is the latest in a long series of Trump administration officials who have raised serious conflict of interest concerns by working on policy that could affect their financial interests,” said Bookbinder. “The FBI should conduct an investigation to determine whether Herndon participated in matters he should not have.”