While the news that the top members of the Donald Trump campaign sought to collude with Russian government attempts to influence the election has understandably overwhelmed all other news this week, the New York Times and ProPublica effort to uncover just who the Trump administration has tasked with coming up with the list of things the administration should be “deregulating” is itself noteworthy.
Because the Trump administration has been hiding who those people are:
Most government agencies have declined to disclose information about their deregulation teams. But The New York Times and ProPublica identified 71 appointees, including 28 with potential conflicts, through interviews, public records and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. […]
The appointees include lawyers who have represented businesses in cases against government regulators, staff members of political dark money groups, employees of industry-funded organizations opposed to environmental rules and at least three people who were registered to lobby the agencies they now work for.
At the Education Department alone, two members of the deregulation team were most recently employed by pro-charter advocacy groups or operators, and one appointee was an executive handling regulatory issues at a for-profit college operator.
It seems much of the “deregulation” effort is in fact being done in coordination with the industries that want Trump to deregulate them. It’s not just the people on the hush-hush deregulation teams themselves, but who they’re meeting with.
And they’re trying to hide that information as well:
The Interior Department has not disclosed the correspondence or calendars for its team. But a review of more than 1,300 pages of handwritten sign-in sheets for guests visiting the agency’s headquarters in Washington found that appointees had met regularly with industry representatives.
Over a four-month period, from February through May, at least 58 representatives of the oil and gas industry signed their names on the agency’s visitor logs before meeting with appointees.
The Environmental Protection Agency also rejected requests to release the appointment calendar of the official leading its team — a former top executive for an industry-funded political group — even as she met privately with industry representatives.
It’s a good read, and will become very important as each team begins to finalize their industry wish lists of just what public health, safety, land use, and other regulations written into the books as a result of past industry actions ought to be pruned back now that Trump’s team of hyper-conservative Republican “business” advocates has got hold of the shears.
Given the secrecy with which the “deregulators” are attempting to operate, it also may be the prelude to the next administration scandal.