WASHINGTON — Now that we have absolute proof Russia interfered in the 2016 election and knows it is free to intervene in the 2020 U.S. elections with impunity, let us turn to the stunning amount of old-fashioned corruption going on in your nation’s capital.
The number of top administration officials who have left their jobs in the past two and a half years because of malfeasance is far higher than normal. (It must be made clear here that both Democrats and Republicans in office throughout our history have taken advantage of their positions to make themselves or their families and friends richer. But we now see more openly outrageous behavior than most of us could have imagined.)
More than 164 lobbyists now run or help run agencies where they once lobbied on behalf of actions to benefit their companies or industries.
A total of 15 Cabinet-level appointees have left the Trump administration so far. At this point in the presidential term, that compares with seven in the Obama administration and four in the George W. Bush White House.
Trump prefers this kind of chaos and likes “acting” administrators, who don’t have congressional confirmation or the authority of the actual title. This has been compared to a classroom run by a series of substitute teachers rather than putting a teacher with a firm lesson plan in charge. Of 31 top positions in the Trump administration, 15 are acting, including the directors of homeland security, the White House chief of staff’s office, defense, aviation, food and drug, the Secret Service, emergency response, occupational safety and health and many others.
Many Trump Cabinet officials have felt they are above the law as does their boss. A number of top Cabinet officials have been forced to resign because of misuse of their office.
Scott Pruitt was forced to resign as head of the Environmental Protection Agency after multiple watchdogs, lawmakers and environmental groups raised ethics questions about his spending, housing arrangements, security team and raises for political appointees.
Ryan Zinke resigned as secretary of interior in a storm of ethical questions about his use of his office and opening up public lands and waters to friends in the oil and gas drilling industries.
The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brenda Fitzgerald, had to resign after she bought shares in food, drug and tobacco companies while purporting to stop drug abuse and smoking.
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Tom Price, who made hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug company stock while he was a member of Congress, had to resign as head of Health and Human Services amid a mountain of corruption charges.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a billionaire, has reversed the department’s tough stand against for-profit colleges and schools, favoring her old associates even though her boss, Trump, ran a corrupt for-profit university that was sued by the federal government.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, another billionaire, has had one conflict-of-interest scandal after another, which he ignores.
Brock Long spent thousands of dollars to use government vehicles to go to his home in North Carolina while heading the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also raised eyebrows for spending over $800,000 on travel. He reportedly was surprised that a military plane could not be used to take him and his new wife on their honeymoon to Europe.
Most recently, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, whose husband Mitch McConnell runs the Senate and whose wealthy Chinese family has given him more than $1 million in campaign donations, refused to give up $400,000 worth of stock in a company that makes money off construction projects. The price of the stock seems to rise every time the White House declares “infrastructure week,” even though nothing ever happens.
Everyone knows that the president and his family have made millions profiting from the presidency. Foreign leaders and state government officials believe they must stay at Trump’s hotel in Washington whenever they are in the nation’s capital. And every time Trump visits one of his properties, which is about 50% of his time in office so far, taxpayers pay thousands of dollars for rent for staff and security.
If this were a Democratic administration, Republican members of Congress would be screaming at the top of their lungs about corruption. Lawmakers have a duty to oversee the executive branch.
And that raises a good question. Where is Congress?