When lobbyists are our watchdogs
The Washington Post
“Is the swamp drained yet?” asked Paul Waldman. Actually, it’s dirtier than ever, as President Trump has appointed a legion of industry lobbyists to run the federal government. After Gen. James Mattis resigned in protest as head of the Defense Department, Trump installed employees of military contractors to run the Pentagon; the latest is Mark Esper, a longtime lobbyist for Raytheon. At Esper’s confirmation hearing last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren brought up the inconvenient fact that Esper is still being paid a golden parachute of $1 million by Raytheon. But Esper refused to recuse himself from any Pentagon decision to buy Raytheon products, indignantly saying it’s wrong to assume that “anybody that comes from the business or corporate world is corrupt.” Similar conflicts of interest abound: The Labor Department is now being led by Patrick Pizzella, a former lobbyist who helped industry groups fight wage increases and workers’ rights laws. Coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler is “hard at work gutting America’s environmental regulations” at the Environmental Protection Agency. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt is a former oil company lobbyist. On and on it goes, at every level of these agencies. “We don’t treat it as scandalous,” because everyone’s so worn down. And so Trump gets away with it.