Washington—White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci should not be granted a certificate of divestiture allowing him to defer capital gains tax from the sale of his equity in the hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, according to a letter sent today to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) by a coalition of good government groups.
The letter was signed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), along with American Oversight, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Every Voice, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Represent.US, Revolving Door Project, Public Citizen, and Norman J. Ornstein.
The sale of SkyBridge to the Chinese conglomerate HNA Group and RON Transatlantic EG, first reported in January, is reportedly worth $250 million and could earn Scaramucci between $62.5 million and $125 million. Certificates of divestiture are granted to ease the burden on executive branch employees being forced to sell assets which would create a conflict of interest with their position.
The sales agreement was entered into in January 2017, long before Scaramucci was offered jobs to join the administration, first at the Export-Import Bank and now as the White House Communications Director. The sale is only waiting on approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States—which reviews sales of American companies to foreigners for national security risks. No certificate of divestiture should be granted, as OGE regulations bar them for deals entered into before appointment.
“The purpose of certificates of divestiture is to minimize the potential economic sacrifice of serving your country,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “People should not be able to enter into a major business deal, then net themselves a multimillion dollar tax break because they took a government job afterward.”
If OGE were to grant the certificate of divestiture, it would constitute an abuse of the legal authority authorizing these certificates.