“My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy,” Trump said proudly at a campaign rally in 2016. “I’ve grabbed all the money I could get, I’m so greedy. But now I want to be greedy for the United States.”
Most presidents come into office saying their administration will adhere to the highest ethical standards, and those who work for them will either be committed solely to the interests of the public or they’ll be shown the door. Donald Trump didn’t bother to say that, perhaps because the thought didn’t occur to him. In any organization Trump leads, there will always be two guiding principles: show absolute loyalty to the boss, and then get yours.
Which means that public service, in the form of a commitment to setting aside one’s own material interests at least for a time and focusing only on working for the good of the American people, is for suckers:
Two senior Environmental Protection Agency political appointees — including one who personally supervises every grant the agency awards to or solicits from outside groups — got approval from the agency’s ethics office to continue to collect outside income while working for the Trump administration.
Letters from the EPA’s office of general counsel, which were released Monday by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, show that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s special assistant Patrick Davis and the deputy associate administrator for the office of public affairs, John Konkus, sought permission to work for private clients even as they occupied full-time federal jobs.
Davis asked to work “as the sales director of Telephone Town Hall Meeting,” according to a Feb. 3 letter from Justina Fugh, the EPA’s alternate designated agency ethics official, while the clients Konkus is consulting for were not made publicly available. Instead, Fugh’s Aug. 1 letter to Konkus states that he wanted “to take on clients to advise about strategy, mail and media production”: It mentions two “likely clients,” whose names are redacted, adding that he anticipated “getting more clients in the next six months.”
Oh, I’m sure he will. And why shouldn’t he? The president himself has made every effort to monetize the presidency for the interests of his private business. Should we expect his underlings to do anything different? The fact that the clients’ names will be kept secret is just perfect. Because I’m sure we can take them at their word that there won’t be any conflicts of interest, in an administration where the president gives a hugely influential job to his son-in-law, who then has meetings with financial firms that soon after give hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to his family firm.