ProPublica has a list of Trump appointees to agencies. They can be aptly described as a motley crew. The most significant is probably Senior White House Advisor Donald Benton, a former Washington State senator and Trump’s regional campaign manager. Once ran a county environmental office. According to the Seattle Times, “he has an almost perfect track record of failure and interpersonal conflict, often resulting in legal or disciplinary action, at every public position he’s held.” His environmental record is very mixed, with a lot of controversy. But he was also one of a dozen GOP state senators to vote in 2013 for the governor’s proposal to study ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The upshot seems to be that he’s a bit of a loose cannon.
According to the Washington Post, there are serious tensions between Benton and Pruitt:
Pruitt is bristling at the presence of former Washington state senator Don Benton, who ran the president’s Washington state campaign and is now the EPA’s senior White House adviser, said two senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.
These officials said Benton piped up so frequently during policy discussions that he had been disinvited from many of them. One of the officials described the situation as akin to an episode of the HBO comedy series “Veep.”
Here’s the rest of the”motley crew,” with some background information about them.
Layne Bangerter (Senior Advisor) – According to the Idaho Statesman, “a Melba farmer and rancher who helped Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo craft a bill to protect wilderness and ranching in Owyhee County.” Unfortunately, those issues aren’t under EPA jurisdiction. It doesn’t appear he has any expertise in pollution issues.
Patrick Davis (Senior Advisor)– a political consultant who led Trump’s campaign in Colorado.
Douglas Ericksen (Senior Advisor) – a Washington State Senator who headed the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. Has kept his state legislative seat while serving in the U.S. government.
Holly Greaves (Senior Advisor) – an audit manager at two major accounting firms.
John Konkus (Senior Advisor) — chaired Trump’s campaign in the Tallahassee area and worked on Pruitt’s confirmation. Konkus is a Florida political consultant with strong ties to the Florida GOP.
David Kreutzer — a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who opposed Obama’s climate policy and favored arctic drilling.
Charles Munoz (White House liaison) — Nevada state director who organized for Americans for Prosperity (a Koch political organization) in Nevada
David Schnare (Senior Advisor) – a former EPA staffer who had long collided with agency priorities and has worked since then a Koch-financed organizations. [Correction: a reader informed me that he left the agency last week. Schnare told E&E News, “The backstory to my resignation is extremely complex. I will be writing about it myself. It is a story not about me, but about a much more interesting set of events involving misuse of federal funds, failure to honor oaths of office, and a lack of loyalty to the President,”]
Justin Schwab (Senior Advisor) – a lawyer at Baker Hostetler.
George Sugiyama (Senior Advisor) chief counsel for Inhofe, before that a mining lobbyist.
Because Trump has questioned the need to fill senior staff positions with permanent appointees, it’s hard to know whether these folks are just temporary or whether they will be permanent fixtures at EPA.