Watchdog: Penalties on corporate violators drop under Trump

Watchdog: Penalties on corporate violators drop under Trump
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The Trump administration has imposed fewer penalties on corporations that broke the law or violated regulations during President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE’s first year in office, according to a watchdog group. 

Public Citizen found that in 11 of 12 federal agencies, penalties against corporate violators dropped by at least 50 percent under the oversight of Trump-appointed officials, according to a a report obtained by The Hill.

The most significant impact was found at the Environmental Protection Agency, run by 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 until earlier this month. The agency levied $1.5 billion in penalties against corporate violators last year, compared to $24 billion during President Obama’s final year in office, Public Citizen found.

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Its report cited Syngenta Seeds LLC, which faced a $4.9 million penalty in 2016 for violating pesticide regulations. However, after Trump took office, the EPA lowered the penalty to $150,000 along with a $400,000 investment in a worker training program. 

Public Citizen also found the Justice Department implemented 90 percent fewer penalties, while the Securities and Exchange Commission’s penalties dropped by 68 percent in Trump’s first year.

“When it comes to large corporations, the supposedly ‘tough-on-crime’ Trump administration is undertaking an epic retreat from law enforcement – slashing fines, declining to bring cases against corporate wrongdoers and cutting enforcement programs,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in a statement.

The Associated Press first reported on Public Citizen's findings.

Trump frequently vowed to "drain the swamp" on the campaign trail, a pledge to voters that he would root out lifelong politicians and corrupt leadership. He faced criticism in recent months when he declined to fire Pruitt, despite numerous ethical scandals over misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Pruitt resigned earlier this month amid mounting pressure as new scandals were uncovered.

Trump has repeated the "drain the swamp" mantra less often since taking office. However, he has touted that his administration has rolled back regulations at a record pace.

Updated at 8:03 a.m.