Abusing taxpayer money used to be a firing offense. Not in the Trump era.

(Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)

Top officials used to be humiliated and ousted for ethics violations like these. Now they're just following the example

In the 1990 Martin Scorsese film The Grifters, the con artists of the title sell out their own flesh and blood and seem ever so confident they can keep the con going. Up until recently, we’ve all had reason to be confident that despite other flaws, our elected officials and public servants keep watch on those who seem a bit too comfortable spending our hard-earned tax dollars on themselves.

"Mr. Watkins has resigned and the taxpayers will be fully reimbursed. The taxpayers will not be out one red cent.”

That was President Clinton in the spring of 1994 after David Watkins, the White House director of administration, used a presidential Marine One fleet helicopter to travel to a golf course near Frederick, Md., with another aide. They were hosting an administrator of Camp David.

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