Some Trump Loyalists Replacing Federal Watchdogs Have ‘Preposterous’ Conflicts
Author: Lisa Rein, Tom Hamburger, The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - The political appointee President Donald Trump installed last week to investigate waste, fraud and abuse at the Transportation Department is the same official in charge of one of the agency’s key divisions.
That means Howard “Skip” Elliott is now running an office charged with investigating his own actions.
Elliott serves simultaneously as the Transportation Department’s inspector general and head of the department’s pipeline and hazardous materials agency, whose mission includes enforcement of safety regulations on nearly 1 million daily shipments of gas, oil and other dangerous compounds.
“The idea that an independent IG could simultaneously be part of the political team running an agency they are supposed to oversee is preposterous,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight.
Elliott’s appointment was the fifth in two months in which Trump, chafing from oversight he perceived as criticism, replaced a career investigator with an appointee considered more loyal to the president. In three of the cases, Trump has installed new leadership drawn from the senior ranks of the agencies the inspectors general oversee.