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Matt Shuham

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously associate editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

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].”

We Want To Hear From You: Federal swampiness can often feel disconnected from our readers’ on-the-ground reality. But we know that corruption and conflicts of interest in the Executive Branch — in the institutions meant to protect Americans against corporate and government overreach — have an impact on real people. 

Has Trump administration swampiness affected you or someone you know? Contact mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and we may reach out for more information.

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Around the same time NBC News moderators asked Democratic primary candidates on Wednesday about a father and daughter who recently died trying to cross the southern border — reportedly after being denied the chance to claim asylum due to the Trump administration’s “metering” policy — President Donald Trump sent his first tweet of the night.

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Things didn’t look great for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) when he and his wife Margaret were indicted last August for allegedly misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds.

But things have gotten much worse. A little less than a year after Duncan blamed Margaret for mishandling campaign money, she switched to a guilty plea and began cooperating with prosecutors against him. On Tuesday, prosecutors alleged Hunter used campaign funds to facilitate numerous extramarital affairs.

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Border vigilante Jim Benvie had a terrible Friday.

After months of viral fame, the man responsible for live-streaming dozens of his and his masked militia friends’ “arrests” of migrants and asylum seekers at the border was charged with impersonating a federal agent, according to newly unsealed court filings.

The Daily Beast also revealed Friday that Benvie had been charged with fraud in Oklahoma, for allegedly padding his own pockets with money he ostensibly raised for a cancer-striken child.

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