Swamp monsters in Trump’s cabinet
By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
President Trump promised to drain the swamp, but instead brought the swamp into the White House with one of the most corrupt administrations in the history of our country. Very few of his Cabinet officials have the qualifications to run their departments, but the following six are the least qualified and the most corrupt.
Ben Carson, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, seems to have been selected for the job because he is Black and Trump felt he would know more about public housing than his wealthy business associates. It’s a mystery to me why Carson, a neurosurgeon, would be selected to oversee public housing and urban challenges instead of a position as Surgeon General for which he is well qualified. His total lack of knowledge and understanding of HUD’s mission and the people served has made him a poor fit for the job. From taking his businessman son on HUD listening tours with tax dollars to approving a $31,000 dining room set purchased by his wife with tax dollars, there are numerous examples of ethical ineptitude. Has he heard of the word Nepotism? However, he said he asked his wife and son if they felt they had done anything wrong and they both said no; so all must be right with the world. In addition to his ethical problems, he seems completely tone deaf on issues related to the poor. He accepted a 14 percent cut to HUD’s budget, an already strapped agency with poor families on wait lists for years for housing or Section 8 vouchers. Even worse, he plans to triple the rent for these families and disallow medical and childcare deductions in the future in determining their rent amount. He says it is unfair to tenants who can’t qualify for the deductions. In that case, Congress should disallow the big tax cuts they just gave to multi-millionaires because the rest of us can’t qualify for them.
Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was a wealthy banker and former movie producer before being offered his cabinet position. His California bank was under investigation for foreclosing on over 36,000 homes, failing to open branches near communities of color, and offering very few mortgage loans to minority applicants compared to other financial institutions. Once his appointment was confirmed by Congress, he really showed his true colors by running up a tab of $800,000 for the taxpayers flying on military jets for business at $15,000 per roundtrip. He even requested a military jet for his European honeymoon with his wife, and other personal trips. This is the behavior of the cabinet official entrusted to oversee the nation’s federal expenditures.
Jeffery Beauregard Sessions, U.S. Attorney General, is the nation’s chief law enforcement officer; but sees no contradiction in the fact that he presides over the most corrupt administration in our history, including Nixon. He has found his sweet spot with the Trump administration that tolerates racial hatred and division. Sessions’ tenure is characterized by dismantling enforcement clauses for civil, voting, immigrant, women’s, LGBTQ rights, and ignoring the murders of Black men and boys. He seems to have taken a “see, hear, speak no evil” attitude toward the criminal and ethical violations of this administration.
Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary charged with the protection of America’s natural resources, parklands, and wildlife, has instead been on a mission to destroy them all by creating a U.S. Board made up of hunters wiping away every regulation that prevents them from killing endangered species for trophies to hang on their wall. They have even eliminated Obama’s ban against elephant heads and tusks being brought into the U.S. from Africa. He has proposed selling off national park service properties at bargain prices to the administration’s wealthy business associates, blocked Indian casino expansion on reservations for private casino development, and sweetheart deals for big oil companies to drill off the Florida coast. In addition, he has been spending tax dollars for personal travel and accepting gifts from lobbyist and companies with business before his agency. As a former Montana Congressman, he certainly knows this is a violation of the law.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Prince DeVos is Secretary of Education and the sister of Eric Prince, Black Water founder and currently under investigation by Mueller for his role trying to set up a back channel with Russia for Trump. Though none of these cabinet officials have basic qualifications for their jobs, DeVos seems the least qualified of all. According to Stephen Henderson with the Detroit Free Press she is “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a cabinet level Department of Education”. She is a multi-millionaire who knows nothing about the public school system and is unapologetically happy to spend our public tax dollars on private and religious schools, while trashing all public schools responsible for the education of 90 percent of our children.
I saved the best for last. Scott Pruitt, Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), uses tax dollars as if they are from his own personal piggy bank. A tax paid private security detail travels with him everywhere, even on family trips. He used our taxes to install a $43,000 sound proof booth in his office, requested a $100,000 a month private jet for his use, and a change to the EPA logo to add his name and a bible verse. His list of ethical violations are too numerous to list, as he eliminates regulations that protect our health and safety while accepting quid pro quo from some of the country’s biggest polluters.
After November 2018, I hope the swamp finally gets drained, carrying all of these crooked swamp monsters with it.
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