More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Donald Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.
The chief of staff for Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Wendy Teramoto, still owns a stake in a shipping company tied to associates of Vladimir Putin, despite the fact that her former role as a board member for the same company prompted six Senate Democrats to request an investigation into her apparent conflicts of interest last month.
Last month, the Trump administration said it could not comply with a court order to disclose the names of people who met with the president at Mar-a-Lago in part because they do “not maintain any system for keeping track” of them.
Last month, ProPublica revealed that the Trump administration had installed hundreds of political appointees across the federal government without formally announcing them. The more than 400 officials were hired in temporary positions for what the White House calls “beachhead teams.” Government hiring rules allow them to have those positions for up to eight months.
Last Friday night, the White House began making staffers’ financial disclosures “available,” which give a glimpse of officials’ often extraordinary personal wealth. But it didn’t post the documents publicly. Instead, the White House required a separate request for each disclosure.
These are important disclosures from the people who have the president’s ear and shape national policy. They lay out all sorts of details, including information on ownership of stocks, real estate and companies, and make possible conflicts of interest public.
Wilbur Ross has made a fortune in the steel industry — an industry of which the Commerce Department has significant oversight. In fact, the Commerce Department is slated to make no fewer than five decisions about steel trade soon after the inauguration which will directly affect businesses that Ross has a stake in.
If Trump does not put his businesses in a true blind trust, how will we know if he is even violating the Emoluments Clause? Because of limited financial-disclosure requirements, we might not.