President Donald Trump’s campaign vow to rid Washington of corruption and special interests has been a sad joke for a long time. Since taking office, he has hired more than 100 lobbyists to the federal agencies that oversee these lobbyists’ former employers. His former aides are now becoming lobbyists, too, cashing in on their connections to the White House. And lately it seems like every federal agency is facing scrutiny over dubious spending by top administration officials.
But on Thursday, the Trump White House put the nail in the coffin—or the plug in the swamp—with its announcement that Andrew Wheeler would be nominated to become the Environmental Protection Agency’s deputy administrator. From 2009 until August of this year, Wheeler was a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the largest privately owned coal company in America. The company’s CEO, Bob Murray, has been lobbying the federal government (and suing it) for years to repeal environmental regulations. And Murray has been a huge financial supporter of Trump: He donated $300,000 to his inauguration, and his company’s PAC gave $100,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising committee last year (the day before Murray sent 4,400 layoff notices to coal workers).
Wheeler is not just the figurative embodiment of the swamp, but the literal embodiment of it. The coal industry is responsible for 72 percent of toxic water contamination in the United States, making it the nation’s largest water polluter. That’s according to the agency where Wheeler is about to be second in command—the agency that is charged with protecting clean water. There’s no better person to represent how polluted Trump’s swamp has become.