Former director of government ethics Walter Shaub explained why President Donald Trump’s political appointees keep humiliating his administration over and over again.
According to Shaub it all goes back to the conspiracy theories of a “deep state.” Such theories might be indicative of an “administration (that) seems to have declared war on expertise. They don’t trust them.”
“What it really reflects is a suspicion of people who are experts,” he continued. “Betsy DeVos’s primary expertise seems to be in being a rich person who didn’t attend public schools she is overseeing and didn’t send her kids to public schools.”
He went on to explain that when the criteria for hiring someone is about their campaign donation, things like this and other administration issues are the result.
“And her comments about one of the things she said is she couldn’t comment on trends or statistics because each student is an individual,” Shaub said. “Well, that is an anti-intellectual idea coming from the head of the Department of Education because it’s almost like she’s saying you can’t study education. You can’t study whether it’s possible to make school systems in the aggregate better.”
He went on to reveal that one thing the American Oversight organization found after a Freedom of Information Act request was that DeVos doesn’t even go into the office five days a week. Typically, she isn’t at work from Thursday through Tuesday. He conceded it’s entirely possible she is working from home, but it’s suspect at the very least and not consistent with previous people occupying her office.
“They should be going out to view the things they’re overseeing,” he said of cabinet secretaries. “And you heard her on TV saying, she hasn’t focused on looking at the schools that need help. So, it really is disturbing, because it’s just sort of an entire trend of not focusing on the subject matter and coming in with one preconceived idea that, in her case, that idea happens to be, ‘Well, everybody should have more school choice.’ Well, it’s such a facile understanding. If you believe that policy, fine. But come armed with statistics and talking points that can justify that viewpoint.”
He explained that it all goes downhill from there. Nevermind the recent findings that senior counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, broke the law twice, the head of the Veterans Administration, David Shulkin, spent $122,000 on a 10-day European tour on the government dime. Except for his tickets from Wimbledon, which were given to him by a “friend of his wife’s,” he said. When ethics investigators asked the individual about the tickets, the person didn’t even know Shulkin’s wife.
That adds to a long list of cabinet officials that have spent millions in private planes, military helicopters, first-class seats, office doors and Ben Carson’s fancy furniture for his office. Carson, however, is far an isolated incident. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price was forced to resign after only a few months on the job after it was found to have spent over $1 million on his travel.
Shaub explained that the “really depressing thing as an ethics official” is that all of these things should be setting off red alarms to Americans, but because the country is so “hyper-polarized” people are getting off scot-free.
Watch the interview below:
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