Psaki and the White House have declined to confirm reports that she signed a contract to join the left-wing cable news network after she departs her position as the Biden administration’s chief spokesperson.
Now, watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust said that “concerns about conflicts of interest when seeking new employment are not new, and the federal government has strict laws and regulations governing how employees conduct themselves.”
“Under federal law, it is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison to willfully participate in any ‘particular matter’ in which an organization an employee is negotiating or has an arrangement regarding future employment has a financial interest,” the group said in a letter (pdf) to the White House, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, and the Department of Justice on Monday.
The letter also referenced a podcast in which Psaki appeared on April 14 when she was asked about Fox News reporter Peter Doocy and disparaged Fox News.
Doocy, Psaki said, “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 [expletive].”
A day later, on April 15, Psaki wrote on Twitter that she isn’t being critical of any Fox News reporter. But Protect the Public’s Trust said her comments warrant an investigation in light of reports she’s slated to join MSNBC, a competitor.
“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,” Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday.
He then accused the press secretary of “demeaning” a “competitor of her prospective employer, while seeming to act in her official capacity,” which would 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.”
Neither Psaki nor the White House has issued a public comment after Protect the Public’s Trust’s letter. The Epoch Times has contacted the White House press office for comment.
Several weeks ago, Psaki fielded several questions about her future employment at MSNBC and repeatedly stressed that she has complied with all federal ethical and legal requirements
“I have always gone over and above the stringent ethical and legal requirements of the Biden administration, and I take that very seriously,” she said on April 1. “And as is standard for every employee at the White House, I’ve received rigorous ethics counseling, including as it relates to any future employment.”