A recent article in The New York Times described how the 45th president is appointing former lobbyists to key administration posts, and then secretly waiving ethics rules. 

The officials in question are the top White House energy adviser, who formerly lobbied on behalf of oil and gas companies; the chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration, who lobbied to secure hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of his client’s luggage-handling system, which is now being evaluated by his office for purchase; and two officials appointed to the Department of Labor who previously lobbied against proposed rules that would require financial advisers to act in their clients’ best interests. 

In January, the White House had rescinded an Obama administration rule that prevented lobbyists from accepting executive branch positions in agencies they had recently lobbied. A further change made it easier for former lobbyists to obtain waivers allowing them to handle matters that could benefit their former clients. And, the White House is now refusing to make public any records of waivers granted. 

The Director of the federal Office of Government Ethics, Walter Schaub Jr., was quoted as saying: “There’s no transparency, and I have no idea how many waivers have been issued”. 

On Monday, NPR reported the OGE had received more than 39,000 questions and complaints during the Trump transition period, as compared to less than 750 during the Obama transition period. Schaub told NPR that these inquiries have “inundated his tiny agency, which has only advisory power.” He has called on Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, “to become more engaged in overseeing ethics questions in the Trump administration.”

This president had pledged to drain the swamp. When will our elected representatives stand up and fight the corruption?

Michael J. Gardyasz

Lakeland