Trump's promise to drain the swamp is not going well.
The Interior Department's Inspector General confirmed Tuesday that six Trump appointees at the agency are under investigation for possibly breaking federal ethics rules about engaging with their former employers or clients on official matters related to their previous jobs.
The six high-ranking officials join the department's brand new secretary, David Bernhardt, who was in his role for all of four days before he was slapped with an investigation over his conflicts of interests and other potential ethics violations.
The newest investigations came about after the Campaign Legal Center brought a complaint to the IG's office about the conduct of the officials. Taken together, the conduct suggests "a disturbing pattern of misconduct across the Department of the Interior," the complaint says.
The six officials named are: Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech; White House liaison Lori Mashburn, Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs Timothy Williams; Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs Todd Wynn; Senior Deputy Director for Intergovernmental and External Affairs Benjamin Cassidy; and former Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy Vincent DeVito.
Each official was required to sign an ethics pledge at the beginning of their tenure with the Trump administration. The pledge forbids them from working on matters involving former employers or clients, and prevents the appointee from taking official meetings or communicating with those former employers or clients.
But the pledge apparently did not stop these appointees.
For example, Cassidy participated in meetings, first reported by HuffPost, about hunting and trophy imports despite his work lobbying Congress on those very issues when he worked for the NRA.
And Domenech twice met with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, his former employer. The Texas Public Policy Foundation had a lawsuit pending with the Interior Department over endangered species. The lawsuit was settled six months after their meeting with Domenech.
The culture of corruption exhibited by these employees mirrors much of the Trump administration. Scandals have resulted in a number of high-profile Trump administration resignations, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, FEMA Director Brock Long, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, and many others.
Of course, the unethical behavior starts at the top with Trump himself. The redacted Mueller report, released last week, lists a number of ways Trump tried to obstruct justice over the course of the past two years.
Given the level of corruption in the Trump administration, these six Interior Department appointees seem to fit right in.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.