It's no secret that Washington D.C operates on a revolving door system: many of the same people who work in government agencies regulating industries large and small end up leaving to work for those same industries (and vice versa). Yet, despite President Donald Trump's campaign pledge to stop the revolving door, new evidence shows his cabinet members have deep ties with potential conflicts of interest.
According to Bloomberg, Scott Pruitt, Trump's EPA chief, developed a close relationship with oil companies and the Koch brothers while he served as attorney general of Oklahoma. Now, Pruitt is tasked with regulating those very same entities.
“Thank you to your respective bosses and all they are doing to push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states,” an August 2013 email, sent by a representative of the Koch brothers'-funded Americans for Prosperity group to then-Attorney General Pruitt, reads, notes the New York Times. The Koch brothers have spent much of the past two decades fighting government regulation over many issues, including environmental protection.
“Please find attached a short white paper with some talking points that you might find useful to cut and paste when encouraging States to file comments on the SSM rule,” a lobbyist representing major utilities firms sent Pruitt in response to a rule designed to regulate the industry.
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“We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and we can be pro-environment, and we don’t have to choose between the two," Pruitt noted on Feb. 21, defending his position, reports Bloomberg.
"If you look at this individual, Scott Pruitt, if you look at his track record, you will see that his actual work has undermined the mission of the agency that he is now nominated to lead," Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said during Pruitt's confirmation hearing, notes The Hill.
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island added, “My concern is that in the long run he’s going to run into some really serious trouble because of his conflicts of interests and various legal perils.”