Mike Pence took over leadership of the transition process from Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) shortly after some his aides were found guilty of offenses related to the “Bridgegate” politically-inspired bridge lane closure scandal. Under Pence’s leadership, the team decided to undertake all training activities internally instead of contracting for services. The Trump team’s goal was to minimize transition expenses as a symbol of its promise to be frugal with taxpayer dollars, and it ended up returning to the government millions in unspent transition funds.
The costs of this frugality, however, appear to make the budget-cutting success look like a Pyrrhic victory. Despite White House descriptions of past and ongoing internal ethics training, some political appointees at cabinet agencies report receiving “very little training.”
“It looks like a good program, and I wish they had implemented it,” said Norm Eisen, a White House ethics lawyer in the Obama administration who now leads the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It might have spared them the numerous ethics and other messes they have encountered.”