The Trump administration has formed teams staffed by people with ties to the industries they are supposed to deregulate. And they aren’t keen to talk about it.
A new report from ProPublica and The New York Times details how the Trump administration had to be forced through Freedom of Information Act requests to disclose these secretive teams.
ProPublica and The New York Times identified 71 appointees, including 28 with potential conflicts, through interviews, public records and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Some appointees are reviewing rules their previous employers sought to weaken or kill, and at least two may be positioned to profit if certain regulations are undone.
The appointees include lawyers who have represented businesses in cases against government regulators, staff members of political dark money groups, employees of industry-funded organizations opposed to environmental rules and at least three people who were registered to lobby the agencies they now work for.
The Departments of Education, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Defense have all balked at releasing the names of the members of their deregulation teams.
At Education, at least two members of their team came from groups that lobby in favor of private, for-profit charter schools. Employees at Interior have met “regularly” with industry executives, including 58 from oil and gas companies.
At the EPA, Samantha Dravis–a lobbyist and top official for the Republican Attorneys General Association is the chairperson of that agency’s deregulation team. A spokeswoman declined to answer questions about Dravis possibly recusing herself from issues where there are conflicts with her past employers.
For the Trump administration, it seems that conflicts of interest are not something to be avoided but are instead a policy strategy.
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