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  • Problems with Government Departments Meant to Help Native Americans

    Friday, December 15, 2017
    Multiple agencies weren't following best practices for initiatives to help Indian tribes achieve their energy goals. Development of tribes' resources requires approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where we've found long-running federal mismanagement of Indian energy resources. We've also found that deteriorating facilities have led to unsafe conditions at Bureau of Indian Education schools. Misused funds included $1.7 million that was improperly transferred to off-shore accounts.   read more
  • Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve: Who Is Jerome “Jay” Powell?

    Monday, November 20, 2017
    Trump is placing yet another multimillionaire in a position of power by naming Powell—whose $112 million net worth makes him the richest person at the Fed—to serve as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Trump’s cabinet—which includes two billionaires and 11 multimillionaires—is the wealthiest in history, so Powell should fit right in. In 2011, Powell focused on persuading Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling at the same time that Trump was publicly pushing in the opposite direction.   read more
  • Ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Principe: Who Is Joel Danies?

    Sunday, November 19, 2017
    Danies served as management officer and chargé d’affaires in Belize, during and after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, when he used his authority to declare a disaster in order to allow U.S. aid to begin flowing. From 2011 to 2014, Danies served as deputy Haiti special coordinator, helping his native land recover from the devastating earthquake of January 2010. In that role, Danies sometimes found himself in awkward positions trying to explain American policies that were unpopular among Haitians.   read more
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services: Who Is Alex Azar?

    Friday, November 17, 2017
    Trump announced Azar’s nomination on Twitter, saying he would: “be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices.” Actually, Azar has resisted drug-price controls. During his tenure as a senior VP at drug giant Eli Lilly, the company increased the price of its insulin product, Humalog, by 345%. “This is a slap in the face to millions of Americans who are waiting on [the President] to take action to lower drug prices," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of the nomination.   read more
  • Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Who Is Seema Verma?

    Thursday, November 16, 2017
    Under Verma’s “Healthy Indiana Plan,” healthcare in the state has gone from bad to worse. In 2006, it was the 33rd healthiest state in a ranking by American Public Health Association and the United Health Foundation. By 2015, Indiana had fallen to 41st nationwide, The Washington Post reported. Verma has also consulted on similar plans for Michigan, Tennessee and Iowa. Her Indiana Plan removed people from Medicaid if they failed to contribute to a health savings account.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda: Who Is Peter Vrooman?

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017
    Vrooman served as deputy political counselor at the U.S. mission to the United Nations from 2000 to 2005, and was an advisor on the Middle East. He then served three straight postings concerned with that region: as deputy political counselor at the embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel (circa 2006 to 2008); at the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq (circa 2008 to 2009); and as director for Iraq on the staff of the National Security Council (circa 2009 to 2011).   read more
  • Commissioner of Labor Statistics: Who Is William Beach?

    Tuesday, November 14, 2017
    In 1991, Beach was named president of the Institute of Humane Studies, which is funded by the Koch brothers, supporters of right-wing institutions. In 1995, Beach moved to the similarly oriented Heritage Foundation, where he co-authored a paper that promoted abandoning the Social Security system in favor of putting money into the financial markets. In the midst of the Great Recession that began under George W. Bush, Beach urged that unemployment benefits be cut.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic: Who Is Robin Bernstein?

    Monday, November 13, 2017
    Bernstein claims to speak only “basic Spanish.” But she is a founding member of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, which apparently qualified her to be the U.S. representative to the Dominican Republic. A former Democrat, Bernstein worked to persuade Democratic-leaning Jewish voters to support the GOP. She is a longtime friend of Trump's and handles insurance for some of his interests. Bernstein was a 2016 Trump delegate and one of his Florida electors in the Electoral College.   read more
  • Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Who Is Scott Mugno?

    Sunday, November 12, 2017
    Among Mugno's duties as safety VP for FedEx's Ground unit was serving as “brain coach” and “den mother” for FedEx drivers in National Truck Driving Championship competitions. Industry groups welcomed his appointment to OSHA, who has represented American Trucking Associations at Congressional hearings, believing he'll continue the Trump administration’s drive to weaken worker-protection regulations put in place under Obama. Mugno is an enthusiastic Trump supporter who attended his inauguration.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Norway: Who Is Kenneth Braithwaite?

    Friday, November 10, 2017
    Braithwaite’s Naval Reserve duties included serving at NAS Willow Grove (Pennsylvania) in its combat camera unit; deploying to Iraq in 2003 in a naval support role; and becoming commander of the Joint Public Affairs Support Element-Reserve in October 2004. In this role, he was deployed to Pakistan to assist with relief efforts for a major 2005 earthquake. Braithwaite retired from the Naval Reserve in 2011. In 2016 he served on Trump’s Defense Department transition team.   read more
  • Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Who Is Tara Sweeney?

    Thursday, November 09, 2017
    As government relations manager for ASRC, Sweeney supported oil drilling along the Coastal plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2010, as ASRC vice-president of external affairs, as part of her pro-oil drilling stance, she opposed the designation of a large portion of the North Slope as a critical habitat in order to protect polar bears. In 2015, she told The New York Times that the Arctic “is not a pristine snow globe that deserves to be tucked away and preserved.”   read more
  • Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement: Who Is J. Steven Gardner?

    Wednesday, November 08, 2017
    Gardner is a vocal defender of the coal industry and often minimizes mining's environmental damage. Environmental groups blasted his appointment to OSM. “...He will try and fight anything that gets in the way of profits for coal executives—even if it means sacrificing the health of the families...in Kentucky,” said Sierra Club's Tom Morris. “...He has shown nothing but contempt for science-based clean air and water protections for working people, and dutifully pandered to corporate polluters..."   read more
  • Suicide More Common in High-Altitude Counties

    Tuesday, November 07, 2017
    Psychiatric illness, mood disorders and lack of social support are recognized risk factors for suicide. Some studies show that increased elevation may enhance psychological problems, such as panic attacks, and that altitude is a significant risk factor for depressive symptoms and suicide. It's now shown that Americans in higher-altitude counties are at a higher risk for suicide. In Utah, the average geographic altitude is about 6,000 feet, and the rate of suicide is 70% higher than average.   read more
  • Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division: Who Is John Demers?

    Tuesday, November 07, 2017
    Demers helped draft Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the NSA to collect emails and other electronic communications of foreign targets overseas, including correspondence with U.S. citizens. At his confirmation hearing last week, Demers made it clear that the NSA should not be required to obtain an FBI warrant before searching the communications of American citizens. He also waffled on the subject of whether journalists should be jailed for refusing to reveal their sources.   read more
  • Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Who Is Barry Lee Myers?

    Monday, November 06, 2017
    Myers, whose company supported efforts to restrict the ability of the NWS to provide taxpayer-funded weather forecasts to the public, has been nominated to lead the NOAA. If confirmed, he will be only the second leader in the agency’s history not to have a background in science. Myers said he "was originally enrolled in meteorology as an undergraduate [but] then dropped out of school because I was a horrible student. I was never interested in learning, which I look at now as sort of funny.”   read more
  • Secretary of Homeland Security: Who Is Kirstjen Nielsen?

    Sunday, November 05, 2017
    In 2007, Nielsen became general counsel for the national security division of Civitas Group, a strategic advisory and investment firm. In 2012, she became president of Sunesis, consulting on preparedness strategies. She also served as a civilian expert to NATO. By 2016, she was chair of Global Agenda Council on Risk and Resilience at the World Economic Forum. Nielsen then joined the Trump administration as chief of staff to then-Homeland Security Secretary Kelly.   read more
  • Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Who Is L. Francis Cissna?

    Friday, November 03, 2017
    A focus of Cissna's is the H1-B program, which concerns putting workers with technical skills in jobs that can’t be filled by U.S. citizens. He’s seen by the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant think tank, as being tougher on immigration and could undo policies such as letting spouses of H1-B holders get work permits. In 2016, while director of immigration policy at Homeland Security, Cissna volunteered as an advisor to Trump’s presidential campaign regarding immigration policy.   read more
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