This Week In Trump’s Swamp: The President’s Nominations Are Plagued By Scandals And Lack Of Qualifications

April 5, 2019

Washington Post:  After Hundreds Of Crashes, This Britax Jogging Stroller Faced Recall. Then Trump Appointees Stepped In. 

NBC News:  Donors To The Trump Inaugural Committee Got Ambassador Nominations. But Are They Qualified?  

The Guardian:  Trump Fed Pick Was Held In Contempt For Failing To Pay Ex-Wife Over $300,000.   

Despite his constant campaign promises to “drain the swamp,” President Trump has continued to nominate individuals to powerful administration posts with questionable qualifications, controversial backgrounds, and conflicts of interest. This week alone brought stories of wealthy contributors being given plum ambassador posts; potential Federal Reserve nominees with checkered pasts; a Cabinet nominee who continued lobbying after claiming he’d stopped; and an acting commissioner who concealed a consumer safety investigation. Instead of taking the Senate’s Constitutional “advice and consent” role seriously, Senate Republicans instead unilaterally changed the rules to speed up the confirmation of many unqualified, controversial nominees and rubber stamped nominees through their committees.

President Trump’s Acting Consumer Production Safety Commission Chairwoman Concealed An Investigation Into Dangerous Baby Strollers

Washington Post:  After Hundreds Of Crashes, This Britax Jogging Stroller Faced Recall. Then Trump Appointees Stepped In.  “According to a review of documents by The Washington Post and interviews with eight current and former senior agency officials, the [Consumer Product Safety Commission’s] Republican chairwoman kept Democratic commissioners in the dark about the stroller investigation and then helped end the case in court… One month into [Ann Marie] Buerkle’s tenure as chairwoman, in March 2017, agency staff members took the first step toward recalling the BOB with a preliminary determination that the stroller’s front wheel constituted a ‘substantial product hazard.’ […] Ordinarily, at this point, staff members might seek to pressure a reluctant company into agreeing to a voluntary recall, but Buerkle refused to allow staff members to do this, according to the eight officials who spoke to The Post.” [Washington Post, 4/2/19]

Washington Post:  “After the BOB stroller’s maker, Britax Child Safety, refused the agency’s request for a voluntary recall — saying it believed its stroller was safe and did not contain a defect — the company and regulators battled for months. They reached a settlement in late 2018, which was lauded by Republican commissioners as the best possible outcome and criticized by consumer advocates as failing to protect consumers. Buerkle for months had hid the investigation from the agency’s Democratic commissioners and then pushed the case toward settlement, according to the Post article.” [Washington Post, 4/3/19]

Senate Republicans approved this nomination through the Commerce Committee hours after this scandal broke.


NBC News:  Donors To The Trump Inaugural Committee Got Ambassador Nominations. But Are They Qualified?  “When President Donald Trump's pick for ambassador to the Bahamas testified before Congress to make the case for his nomination, he incorrectly stated that the island nation was part of the U.S. It is an independent country. For ambassador to the United Arab Emirates — a job so sensitive in the tense Middle East that every previous president gave it to a career diplomat — Trump picked a wealthy real estate developer with no diplomatic experience… An NBC News review of those who donated to the Trump inauguration found at least 14 major contributors to its inaugural fund who were later nominees to become ambassadors, donating an average of slightly over $350,000 apiece. Though the Trump administration says the business acumen of these nominees qualifies them to represent the U.S. abroad, six of the 14 nominations have languished for months in the Republican-controlled Senate. One nomination has stalled for about two years.” [NBC News, 4/3/19]


The Guardian:  Trump Fed Pick Was Held In Contempt For Failing To Pay Ex-wife Over $300,000.  “Stephen Moore, the economics commentator chosen by Donald Trump for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, was found in contempt of court after failing to pay his ex-wife hundreds of thousands of dollars in alimony, child support and other debts. Court records in Virginia obtained by the Guardian show Moore, 59, was reprimanded by a judge in November 2012 for failing to pay Allison Moore more than $300,000 in spousal support, child support and money owed under their divorce settlement.” [The Guardian, 3/30/19]

Wall Street Journal:  Trump Intends To Nominate Herman Cain For Fed Seat. “A nomination would likely subject Mr. Cain to scrutiny of sexual-harassment accusations that first surfaced during his presidential campaign, which ended in 2011. The accusations, denied by Mr. Cain, had resulted in settlements by the National Restaurant Association, where he served for several years as CEO.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/19]


New York Times:  Trump’s Pick For Interior Dept. Continued Lobbying After Officially Vowing To Stop, New Files Indicate.  “A 2017 invoice indicates that David Bernhardt, President Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, continued to lobby for a major client several months after he filed official papers saying that he had ended his lobbying activities. The bill for Mr. Bernhardt’s services, dated March 2017 and labeled ‘Federal Lobbying,’ shows, along with other documents, Mr. Bernhardt working closely with the Westlands Water District as late as April 2017, the month Mr. Trump nominated him to his current job, deputy interior secretary. In November 2016, Mr. Bernhardt had filed legal notice with the federal government formally ending his status as lobbyist.” [New York Times, 4/4/19]

Washington Post:  The Firm That Once Employed Trump’s Pick To Run Interior Is Making Millions Lobbying It.  “The law and lobbying firm that previously employed President Trump’s pick to run the Interior Department saw a surge in revenue from clients hoping to influence the agency after he left for its upper ranks in 2017. Over the past three years, according to federal records, acting interior secretary David Bernhardt’s former firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has quadrupled its business related to Interior. In 2018, two dozen clients paid BHFS a total of $4.8 million to lobby Interior, according to data compiled from a lobbying database maintained by the Senate. During the previous year, when Bernhardt left the firm to join the Trump administration as deputy secretary, it collected a total of $3.5 million in Interior-related revenue. By comparison, the firm’s total income to lobby Interior in 2016 was $1.2 million. During all but one year going back to 2009, BHFS‘s Interior-related revenue never broke seven figures.” [Washington Post, 4/3/19]

Senate Republicans approved this nomination through the Energy Committee hours after this scandal broke.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans Made It Easier To Jam Through President Trump’s Unqualified Nominees

Washington Post:  “Senate Republicans unilaterally changed the rules Wednesday governing presidential nominations, a bitter escalation of the long-running dispute over the rights of the minority in a chamber once hailed for its bipartisan nature. The move, on a pair of largely party-line votes of 51-to-48, will ease the confirmation process for President Trump’s nominees to sub-Cabinet positions in federal agencies and speed judicial nominees at the district court level.” [Washington Post, 4/3/19]