UPDATE: Swamp Not Drained

Republican Outrages
Last Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Price resigned amid reports he had spent more than a million dollars of taxpayer money on charter flights around the world—but he is hardly alone when it comes to waste, fraud, and abuse in the Trump Cabinet. Since Friday, more stories have exposed top Administration officials for their questionable ethics. Here’s the most recent round up:
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has met with a large number of chemical and energy industry executives since taking office.
New York Times: E.P.A. Chief’s Calendar: A Stream of Industry Meetings and Trips Home
“For lunch on April 26, Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dined with top executives from Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest coal-burning electric utilities, at Equinox, a white-tablecloth favorite of Washington power brokers.”
“That evening, it was on to BLT Prime, a steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, for a meal with the board of directors of Alliance Resource Partners, a coal-mining giant whose chief executive donated nearly $2 million to help elect President Trump.”
“Before those two agenda items, Mr. Pruitt met privately with top executives and lobbyists from General Motors to talk about their request to block an Obama administration move to curb emissions that contribute to climate change.”
“Another theme emerges in the calendar: Industry executives and conservative activists often scored meetings to press Mr. Pruitt to kill or modify Obama-era climate change regulations, particularly the so-called Clean Power Plan. A May 18 conference call included representatives from the State Policy Network and American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization with ties to Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire industrialists.”
“The E.P.A. is expected to issue a legal justification and plan for rescinding the Clean Power Plan as soon as this week.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has vowed to continue traveling on a charter plane and called taxpayers’ concerns “a little B.S.”
E&E News: Zinke vows to continue charter travel; no plans to repay
“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today addressed revelations about his use of charter and military flights while in office, lashing out at critics over what he called ‘a little B.S. on travel.’"
"‘Before we get started, I'd just like to address, in the words of Gen. [Norman] Schwarzkopf, a little B.S. on travel,’ Zinke said.”
“Zinke went on to assert he will continue to use charter or military flights when needed.”
"‘I intend to continue flying in the benefit and on official duties,’ Zinke said. ‘And all of this travel was done only after it was determined by multiple career professionals at the department that no commercial options existed to meet the promulgated schedule.’"
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s Chief of Staff is accepting private air travel from a hedge fund manager who now endorses the GOP tax reform framework.
Washington Post: Hedge fund billionaire flew top Mnuchin aide on private jet to Palm Beach
“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s top aide flew on a hedge fund billionaire’s private jet to Palm Beach several months ago, people familiar with the trip said, the latest example of senior Trump administration officials using luxury air travel even though it often raises red flags with ethics officials.”
“Eli Miller, Mnuchin’s chief of staff, flew with Nelson Peltz, a founding partner of New York-based Trian Fund Management on the trip. Peltz is an activist shareholder who has sought a board seat at Procter & Gamble, seeking to shake up management. He has spoken glowingly about Trump's proposal to slash tax rates on businesses and the wealthy, which is something designed in large part by senior Treasury officials.”
“The federal government has rules aimed at preventing individuals from trying to affect government policy by giving gifts to public officials. There are exceptions that often depend on whether a gift was given in a personal capacity or as a business expense. Travel costs can raise the most scrutiny.”
Hedge funds often have interest in the Treasury Department’s operations, as Treasury has a unique influence over the White House’s decisions related to financial markets, debt decisions and new policy proposals.”
Mnuchin’s air travel is already under scrutiny by the Treasury Department inspector general. Mnuchin and his wife flew on a government plane to Kentucky in August, a trip that officials would normally take on a commercial airline.”