Nearly half of Trump EPA political appointees have industry ties: AP

Nearly half of Trump EPA political appointees have industry ties: AP
© Greg Nash

Nearly half of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE’s appointees to the Environmental Protection Agency have strong industry ties, according to new Associated Press analysis.

About one-third of the 59 appointees the AP tracked in 2017 previously worked as lobbyists or lawyers for companies in industries regulated by the EPA, like chemicals or fossil fuels.

While the majority of those appointees have agreed to recuse themselves from issues involving their former clients, at least three have received official waivers that allow them to work on issues that could affect their previous employers.

For example, Erik Baptist, a top EPA lawyer who formerly worked as a lobbyist and lawyer for the American Petroleum Institute, is now permitted to advise EPA chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE on a renewable fuels policy that he once worked to repeal at his previous job.

The two others granted ethics exemptions worked as lobbyists for a major pesticide maker and a Native American tribe, respectively.

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White House counsel Don McGahn has issued at least 24 ethics waivers to officials across the administration, despite the president signing an executive order to block former lobbyists from working on issues related to former clients, according to the analysis.

Trump, who promised during his campaign to "drain the swamp," has been criticized for appointing officials whose previous work could give create conflicts of interest in their new government jobs.

This report comes just days after it was revealed that an EPA political staffer was cleared by the EPA’s ethics office to have a side job as a media consultant.

Liberal watchdog group Public Citizen found in a report earlier this month that 76 administration lawyers — more than half of the senior attorneys in the executive branch — had ties to the industries they oversee in the administration.