Donald Trump's Conflict-Of-Interest Network (COIN) - Otherwise Known As His Cabinet

12/17/2016 01:01 pm ET Updated Dec 18, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center in Wes
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center in West Allis, Wisconsin, U.S., December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Donald Trump, America's Pathological Liar-in-Chief and First Bully, has nominated a cabinet of billionaires, corporate raiders, right-wing conspiracy theorists, and war hawks. In many cases, they oppose the mission of the agencies they've been picked to run. As a group, their web of affiliations and disdain for the common good should disqualify them from any policy-making position. As a group, they should be called the Conflict of Interest Network (COIN).

They include:

1. A Secretary of Labor (Andrew Puzder), CEO of the company that operates Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants, who hates workers, unions, the minimum wage, and worker safety laws and whose company was found guilty (by the DOL) of labor violations - including wage theft offenses, such as failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime - in 60% of its inspections at these two fast food chains.

2. A Secretary of Education (Betsy DeVos) who opposes public education and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting private charter schools.

3. An EPA director (Scott Pruitt) who, as Oklahoma Attorney General, sued the EPA to help oil companies and who doesn't believe climate change is real

4. A Secretary of HUD (Ben Carson) who believes that government efforts to end racial discrimination is a form of socialism and who made a fortune shilling for a scam diet supplement company.

5. A Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil) who has made billions by endangering the planet with fossil fuels and is good friends with the leader of country (Russia) that interfered with the U.S. election.

6. A national security advisor (Michael Flynn) who was fired as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has promoted what the New York Times called "unsubstantiated claims about Islamic law's spreading in the United States and about the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, ." has profited from his work for defense contractors, and whose penchant for lying led his one-time employees at the DIA to identify his falsehoods as "Flynn facts."

7. A director of the National Economic Council (Gary Cohn) who is president of Goldman Sachs, a bank that helped bring down the economy with reckless and risky lending practices.

8. A Secretary of the Treasury (Steve Mnuchin) who, as head of OneWest Bank, engaged in racial discrimination, foreclosed on tens of thousands of innocent homeowners, and preyed on senior citizens. He used his political connections to purchase the bank throught a sweetheart deal with the federal government. Judges and government regulators criticized OneWest for its predatory practices. He's soon be in charge of dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

9. A Secretary of Commerce (Wilbur Ross) who "made a fortune purchasing bankrupt businesses and flipping them for a profit," according to Forbes, and who owned a coal mining company that responsible for the deaths of 12 coal miners who suffocated after an explosion at its Sago coal mine in West Virginia mine that had a history of safety violations. Earlier this year, his private equity firm, WL Ross & Co. agreed to pay a $2.3 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to properly disclose fees it charged investors.

10. An Attorney General (Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III), Senator from Alabama, who was rejected for a federal judgeship by the Senate because of his racist views. He once called the NAACP "un-American" and "Communist-inspired" and that he thought the KKK was "OK until I found out they smoked pot." He is against any form of immigration reform, is pro-life, opposes the Voting Rights Act, and opposes same-sex marriage.

11. A Budget Director (Cong. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina) who is an member of the extremist Freedom (Tea Party) Caucus and, according to the New York Times, "a fierce advocate of deep spending cuts."

12. A Secretary of Enegy (Rick Perry) who in 2012 wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy (but, "oops," forgot its name), never saw an oil well he didn't love and who, as Texas guv, was an outspoken climate change denier and a fierce champion of the oil and gas industry, from whom he raised more than $11 million from 1998 to 2010.

13. A senior White House advisor (Steve Bannon), an outrageous anti-Semite and former Goldman Sachs banker who, as head of the right-wing extremist website Breitbart News, promoted white supremacists, anti-Muslim hate mongers, anti-Semites, nativists, and misogynists.

14. A Secretary of Health and Human Services (Cong. Tom Price of Georgia) who opposed the popular Children's Health Insurance Program, which insures eight million children, calling it "government-run socialized medicine." He wants to privatize Medicare. He's opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage. He'll be put in charge of dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

15. A Secretary of Defense (General James Mattis) whose nicknames are "Warrior Monk" and "Mad Dog," and who said that it is "a hell of a lot of fun to shoot" people and "Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. I'll be right up front with you. I like brawling."

16. A Secretary of Transportation (Elaine Chao) who made $1.2 million as a director of Wells Fargo Bank during the period the company admitted to creating millions of fake customer accounts. She served as President George W. Bush's fiercely anti-union labor secretary. When she left government, she joined the boards of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Ingersoll-Rand Co., and Vulcan Materials as well as Wells Fargo. She was clearly chosen because she's the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who Trump will need to translate his crazy ideas into legislation, including his infrastructure program (written by Commerce Secretary Ross) that is a corporate welfare scam to give tax breaks to private businesses to build roads and bridges.

As a group, they could be the board of directors of the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, Bob Jones University, and the White Citizens Council.

Peter Dreier is professor of politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books)