Trump Repopulating ‘the Swamp’
Trump Repopulating 'the Swamp'
Remember when Donald Trump was going to “drain the swamp” in Washington?
Apparently Donald Trump doesn’t. A report over the weekend by The New York Times and ProPublica details how the Trump administration is stocking federal agencies “with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.”
Many of the appointments seem to flout much-ballyhooed ethics rules Trump announced shortly after taking office, the report said. But pinpointing those violations is difficult because the administration is issuing secret waivers to the rules.
“There’s no transparency, and I have no idea how many waivers have been issued,” Walter M. Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, the federal bureaucracy’s internal watchdog agency, told The Times.
The report said that in January, Trump issued an executive order weakening ethics standards applying to about 4,000 executive branch hires. The order eliminated an Obama administration requirement that executive branch appointees not accept jobs in agencies they recently lobbied. Trump also made it easier for former lobbyists inside the government to get waivers permitting them to take up matters that could benefit former clients.
The waivers were also previously posted on the Government Ethics website. None have been posted since Mr. Trump became president, as sharing them is no longer required.
The Times/ProPublica report came as thousands of people turned out for more than 100 marches in cities across the country to urge the President to release his tax returns. Trump is breaking with a precedent honored by all of his recent predecessors by refusing to release the returns; he said during the campaign that he would disclose the returns after the Internal Revenue Service completes an audit. Since taking office, he has argued – and repeated over the weekend – that the election settled the issue and only partisan Democrats, angered over his victory, are interested in the returns.
Common Cause has called on Trump to disclose his returns, which would include information about his wide-ranging business interests and would give Americans a clearer picture of potential conflicts between his official responsibilities and those businesses. You can sign our petition demanding release of the returns here.