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A handful of President-elect Trump’s picks for Cabinet jobs haven’t completed their ethics reviews and are late disclosing potential conflicts of interest.

Democrats are using this to argue against quick confirmation, and on this they are right. Senate committees should not send nominees for a floor vote before ethics reviews are complete and have been discussed at a panel hearing. Republicans accuse Democrats of politicizing the nomination process, but the GOP is giving Democrats ammo. The public, too, is entitled to know that longstanding ethics vetting practices have been undertaken and that nominees have been approved in committee only after any problems have been addressed.

That Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will politicize everything is a given — it’s in his DNA — and he will delay all Republican legislation and all Trump nominees as much as he can. But that’s a reason for Trump’s nominees to play by the book, not the reverse. If the Trump nominees provide all the information that Cabinet picks have provided, as standard, for the past four decades, Schumer’s delays will be exposed as partisan. If Trump’s picks withhold or delay their disclosure’s, Schumer would actually have a point —which is never good.

Above all, Trump and his nominees owe the country full candor and disclosure. The ethics framework for Cabinet nominees is sensible and necessary.

Here’s how it works. Nominees, even before they are officially nominated, fill out disclosure forms for the Office of Government Ethics. (Confusingly, this is totally different from the Office of Congressional Ethics that was in the news a week ago). OGE officials review the business arrangements, income streams, assets and other relationships of nominees to see where there is serious danger of clashing with federal law on conflicts of interest or self-enrichment.

Where such conflicts loom, the OGE works out an ethics agreement for the nominee to sign. For instance, a nominee may pledge to move his investments to a blind trust within three months or to recuse herself from matters affecting a recent employer.

As of Monday, a handful of nominees hadn’t completed their ethics reviews because they were tardy in handing in their disclosures. Some hadn’t submitted even a draft disclosure that would allow OGE to start work on a review.

The result is that senators don’t have enough information to grant informed consent on the nominees, as Schumer and other Democrats argue.

Senators and the public cannot know if nominees will steer clear of conflicts or will enrich themselves until those nominees reach their ethics agreements. They can’t sign an agreement until the OGE has performed its review. And OGE can’t perform its review until nominees hand in their paperwork.

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Conflicts of interest are a serious matter, even if you posit good intentions by policymakers. Many of Trump’s picks are new to government, and could easily stumble into ethics pitfalls. The subconscious pull of financial interest can pull a policy decision in one direction. Even the appearance of impropriety erodes public trust.

If the Senate wants to hold hearings this week for the candidates with incomplete ethics review, fine. But they should hold supplementary hearings after ethics reviews are complete, and only then send the nominations to the floor to be voted on.

Will complying with ethics norms satisfy Schumer? Probably not. But if that is, denying him ammo will make fighting for a nominee easier. Wouldn’t it be better to get all the documentation in apple-pie order so Schumer can be told to buzz off?

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