On Monday, swamp-drainer-in-chief Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette will be nominated to replace current secretary Rick Perry, who will depart by the end of the year. To Perry, whom the president briefly attempted to use as a scapegoat for the Ukraine scandal, he offered camaraderie as his parting gift: “Rick was a great Governor of Texas and a great Secretary of Energy. He is also my friend!”
As a former auto-industry lobbyist, Brouillette won’t be lonely in Trump’s Cabinet, where he joins former coal lobbyist and current EPA head Andrew Wheeler; former oil and gas lobbyist and current Interior secretary David Bernhardtl; former Raytheon lobbyist and current Defense secretary Mark Esper; and former Goldman Sachs lobbyist and current Labor secretary Eugene Scalia. Many of these people — as well as those at other, informal positions throughout the administration — have been tasked by Trump with deregulating the sector they are in theory supposed to protect or promote, not to mention selling department services off to the highest bidder.
The administration’s brazen staffing choices extend well beyond the Cabinet level. According to a recent (and apparently timely) accounting by ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations, for every 14 political appointees working in the Trump administration, one is a lobbyist. The 281 lobbyists who have been employed by the administration already outnumber what Presidents Bush and Obama totaled for their eight years in office each. And because Trump did not renew an Obama ethics pledge requiring registered lobbyists to avoid executive-branch service for at least two years, the K Street–to–Pennsylvania Avenue turnaround has been substantially accelerated.
Unlike some of the president’s less qualified appointees, Brouillette has proved himself to be capable in his capacity as deputy secretary of Energy; according to the New York Times, at the department he is known “for his deep knowledge of key policy issues related to nuclear weapons, cyber security and energy exports.” But for anyone hoping Trump might appoint a green-energy advocate to lead the Department of Energy, they’ll have to keep waiting: When Brouillette worked in the Bush administration, the former Ford vice-president was an architect of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which promoted coal and helped usher in the era of fracking.