Views vary over whether Scaramucci’s sale of SkyBridge to a Chinese conglomerate poses a conflict


That’s Meredith McGehee, chief of policy and strategy at Issue One, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to reduce the influence of money in politics and promote government ethics, talking about Anthony Scaramucci.

But it’s worth noting she is not scolding him over his coarse comments Wednesday about White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and then–Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who was relieved of his position late Friday.

Speaking to the public radio program Marketplace, McGehee is instead referring to the risk of bringing in a high-level employee who is in the process of selling his fund-of-hedge-funds outfit to a Chinese conglomerate. She characterized communications director as one of most powerful positions a president can offer (though Trump’s first communications director, Mike Dubke, lasted three monthsand was hardly a household name).

That sale, of Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital to China’s HNA Group, has not closed and apparently remains under regulatory scrutiny (both of which had been given as conditions for Scaramucci’s taking up employment in the White House).

Some critics have argued the Chinese company may have lodged an overly rich bid for Scaramucci’s firm in hopes of currying favor with a White House insider. Priebus reportedly voiced concern about just that to the president and successfully barred Scaramucci’s hiring for several months. But the White House, according to a Huffington Post report late Friday, has dismissed that line of thinking about the SkyBridge sale to HNA.

A widely referenced Politico report, based in part on Bloomberg data, estimated the value of the transaction at between $200 million and $230 million. Scaramucci is reportedly in line personally for tens of millions of dollars in profit, on which federal tax could be deferred if he is successful in arguing he divested himself of the 12-year-old firm in order to take up government employment free of conflicts of interest.

Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, told the radio program Marketplace he does not see a major ethics concern with Scaramucci’s hiring as communications director, but if Scaramucci were to take on a bigger policy role, that would present a concomitantly bigger concern. In that event, he said, “you’d have to wonder if [that employee is] thinking about the country or thinking about the deal.”

Scaramucci reportedly had been in line at the outset to head the Trump White House’s office of public liaison and more recently took up a top post at the government’s Export-Import Bank.

By Tim Rostan


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