Throughout the election, transition and since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has said he wants to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., by reforming the federal government’s corrupt, inefficient and costly structures and rolling back bureaucracy.
As part of his efforts to clean up corruption and improve government services, Trump-appointed Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke informed in June several key senior staff members in Department of the Interior agencies that they would be reassigned. Among those targeted were senior officials in the Fish & Wildlife Service, DOI’s top climate-change official, and other important bureaucrats in agencies such as the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.
Zinke’s restructuring isn’t merely rearranging deck chairs; the goal, at least according to the environmentalists who are now actively fighting the moves, is to limit the power of bureaucrats thought to be favorable to the Obama administration’s goals. Unsurprisingly, left-wing environmentalists are now actively fighting the moves, which they say “are sowing chaos in the ranks of the agency’s leadership.”
According to a press release issued on Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity, an influential leftist environmentalist group, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine the motives behind the staff reassignments.
CBD’s request asks the Department of the Interior to provide “All records of communications, including but not limited to, emails and/or phone records mentioning, including, and/or referencing the reassignment of Senior Executive Service (‘SES’) staff, as reported on June 16, 2017,” as well as “All records, including but not limited to, drafts of letters mentioning, including, and/or referencing SES staff 15-day, 60-day terminations and/or notices of changes to staffing.”
“Ryan Zinke is already among history’s most hostile Interior secretaries when it comes to public lands, endangered species, national parks and American Indian tribes,” said Taylor McKinnon, the Center for Biological Diversity’s public lands campaigner. (Yes, that’s his official title.) “Now, in typical Trump administration fashion, he’s sowing chaos in the ranks of the agency’s leadership. Kicking out these kinds of long-term staffers opens the door to all sorts of trouble, including sweetheart deals for polluters.”
McKinnon and the Center for Biological Diversity have been vocal opponents of the Republican Party and Trump, who they believe is actively working to destroy the environment.
“It’s important for the Center and for the public to see these records to shed light on these massive staffing changes,” said McKinnon, “and it’s particularly important considering the potential impacts these changes may have on the way the Interior agencies are able to protect our collective interests regarding our country’s lands, waters and wildlife.”
If CBD's FOIA request is approved, the environmentalist group will have access to a wide array of internal memos and other information used by the Trump administration, which CBD will surely use to wage a public campaign against Trump's effort to "drain the swamp."