US President Donald Trump’s nominee for navy secretary Philip Bilden, has withdrawn his name from consideration, a media report said.
“After an extensive review process, I have determined that I will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family’s private financial interests,” Bilden said in a statement on Sunday night.
Bilden, a former military intelligence officer who ran the Hong Kong branch of a private equity firm, said in the statement that he had informed Defence Secretary Jim Mattis that he did not want to continue to seek confirmation a month after he had been named for the post.
It was the latest case in which wealthy business people whom Trump picked for government jobs have been tripped up by the demands of avoiding conflicts of interest, the New York Times reported.
On February 3, Vincent Viola, a billionaire Wall Street trader and Trump’s choice for secretary of the Army, withdrew because he decided it was too difficult to detach himself from his business interests.
A CBS News report on February 18 said that Bilden was likely to withdraw his nomination, but Trump administration officials denied it.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said that CBS’s sources were “wrong”.
“Just spoke with him and he is 100 per cent committed to being the next SECNAV (secretary navy) pending Senate confirm,” Spicer wrote.
After Bilden’s Sunday night announcement, Mattis called his decision disappointing but said he understood it, saying it was “driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests,” The New York Times said.
Bilden, the son of a naval officer, was a board member of the Naval Academy Foundation and the Naval War College Foundation. He was reported to be Mattis’s choice for the position.
He made his fortune in a 25-year career at HarbourVest Partners, first in Boston and then in Hong Kong.
Mattis said that “in the coming days” he would recommend a new Navy secretary candidate.