This is your weekly roundup of stories from the swamp, published every Thursday.
Wehrum Resigns: The EPA’s top air quality official announced Wednesday that he would resign after just a year and a half on the job amid an ethics probe into whether he’d helped his former corporate clients in polluting industries.
Wehrum likely didn’t feel much need for more time in government, given his crowning achievement is already out of the gate: Last week, the EPA finalized a replacement proposal for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, the Affordable Clean Energy rule. ACE will allow states to dictate their own energy emissions standards, rather than following standards set by the federal government. For context, this new plan sets an emissions reduction standard that, in The Washington Post’s words, “cuts carbon emissions from power plants by less than half of what experts say is needed to avoid catastrophic global warming.”
Trump Swamp has focused on Wehrum before, when the New York Times revealed that a week before Wehrum took his current job as assistant EPA administrator for air and radiation, a petrochemical group sent his future office what was essentially a deregulatory to-do list. Once in office, Wehrum started ticking items off of that list.
Wanna Work At The CFBP? Brag About Fighting It: Resumes of applicants to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau jobs obtained by American Oversight and published by Mother Jones have one major point in common. They all brag about their past legal work against the CFPB.
Notably, these applicants were distinct in that they were the first political appointees to the CFBP in the agency’s history, aside from its various directors. When he assumed acting leadership of the CFBP — using the Federal Vacancies Reform Act — then-White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney announced that for the first time in CFBP history, he would be creating a number of politically appointed positions, to work above career officials.
For example, Eric G. Blankenstein, a former Williams & Connolly associate who’s now the CFBP’s policy director for supervision, enforcement and fair lending, bragged in his resume about “representing banks in regulatory investigations and litigation with [the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and CFPB alleging violations of various consumer laws.”
Trump,“headliner and caterer” at events that profit him: In another break-down of the President steering profit to his own properties — both as America’s chief diplomat and commander in chief, and as a candidate for reelection — the Washington Post noted that, at least according to unnamed current and former White House officials, Trump has been warned by White House Counsel’s Office staffers and others against visiting his own properties in his official capacity. Trump, most recently by staying at his Turnberry resort in Scotland during an official trip to Europe, has ignored them.
A Hatchett to the Hatch Act: White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has made clear she could care less about the law prohibiting political advocacy by Executive Branch employees in their official capacities. Office of Special Counsel chief Henry Kerner, who recently called for Conway’s removal, told the House Oversight Committee on Monday that Conway’s conduct “created an unprecedented challenge to OSC’s ability to enforce [the law].”
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