Ethics office director rebukes agency heads

The acting director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics is warning the leaders of government agencies that they should promote an "ethical culture," while suggesting some have practiced the opposite.

In a memo issued to agency heads, David Apol, the acting director and general counsel of the Government Ethics office, wrote that he's grateful to leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to ethical service.

"At the same time, I am deeply concerned that the actions of some in government leadership have harmed perceptions about the importance of ethics and what conduct is, and is not, permissible," Apol wrote.

Apol called on these agency heads to "redouble" their commitment to ethics in government. He attached a list of recommendations for these officials to follow such as modeling a "Should I do it?" rather than a "Can I do it?" mentality and promoting a safe culture for reporting misconduct.

This comes after Tom Price resigned late last month as Health and Human Services secretary over his use of private charter flights for official government business. Other officials' use of charter flights such as by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt have also come under scrutiny. 

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.