Despite his promise to drain the swamp and eliminate corruption if he was elected president, Donald Trump’s staffing choices prove that he was just spewing meaningless slogans in order to win votes.
His nominees show that not only will the swamp remain under a President Donald Trump – it may be deeper and murkier than ever.
One of Trump’s picks – Scott Pruitt, a puppet of the fossil fuel industry who Trump tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – could find himself embroiled in controversy for his connection to two super PACs that may have been coordinating, even though it’s a violation of campaign finance laws to do so, according to a new report from the Huffington Post.
A portion of the report:
An average of roughly $26,543 per month was disbursed from two federal election-focused political action committees linked to Pruitt, both of which announced plans last week to shut down. Donations flooded in from fossil fuel companies, whose pollution Pruitt would be tasked with policing at the EPA. Staff overlap between the two political groups raises concerns, given that one is a super PAC and cannot legally coordinate with the other PAC under election rules. Most of the money, meant to bolster Pruitt’s national profile by raising funds for candidates seeking federal office, went to consultants and travel.
The Huffington Post also noted that Pruitt “raised a lot of money for candidates that never reached them,” even though super PAC money is intended to help other political candidates.
Of the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised from the fossil fuel industry for one of the Pruitt-affiliated super PACs, Oklahoma Strong leadership PAC, only a small fraction actually went to the intended cause of supporting candidates in elections. Instead, nearly 90 percent of disbursements went to “other federal operating expenditures.”
The same was true for a second PAC connected to Trump’s EPA pick, Liberty 2.0, which HuffPo reports raised nearly a half million dollars since 2015 – the vast majority of which was raised from the energy industry and went toward expenses like office space and travel.
More from the report:
Liberty 2.0, the Pruitt-linked super PAC, raised $420,248 since its founding in 2015, nearly half of which came from fossil fuel interests, according to a review of election filing by E&E News. Lucas Oil Products and coal behemoth Murray Energy each donated $50,000, the largest sums contributed, according to filings. Devon Energy Corp., whose ties to Pruitt run so deep its lawyers once authored a letter he signed and sent to the EPA, gave $5,000.
Liberty 2.0 donated $50,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aimed at maintaining Republican control of the Senate, and $10,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which Pruitt chaired in 2012 and ‘13. Its operating expenditures, which totaled $243,313, went mostly to consulting fees, rent for office space and airfare.
Huffington Post notes that there is clear overlap between the two organizations, which is illegal. Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money, but they “cannot work in sync,” which is what these two groups appeared to be doing.
As HuffPo also reports:
Both groups operated out of the same office space in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to filings. Millan Hupp and Sydney Hupp, sisters and former campaign staffers for Pruitt, each received payments from both groups, data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics shows. Crystal Coon, who served as Pruitt’s first chief of staff as attorney general and now works as a consultant for a communications firm, earned $37,787 from both groups in 2016. In 2015, Tamara Hyatt Cornell, a fundraiser, raked in $15,206 from Oklahoma Strong and an additional $4,107 from Liberty 2.0. None of the women responded to emails, LinkedIn and Facebook messages requesting comment on Monday.
For Americans of both political parties, this is the side of politics that is most frustrating. It’s a frustration that Trump tapped into in order to successfully capture enough electoral votes to become the 45th president.
Now, after running on a platform of changing the system so that it works to benefit the people and not special interests, Trump is filling his administration with people like Scott Pruitt – a man connected with political organizations that are, at best, funded by the fossil fuel industry and, at worst, breaking campaign finance laws.
The swamp is already deeper, and Donald Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.