Vice President-elect Mike Pence has started to fulfill the most basic promise of the Trump campaign: To drain the Washington swamp. This territory, which began as swampland before it was constituted the District of Columbia, is no longer inhabited by snakes, alligators, and other reptiles but by their evolutionary human equivalents: lobbyists, special interests, and bureaucratic parasites. Now Pence has reversed the trend of recent decades by kicking lobbyists off the transition teams that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie established to guide the new president in his choice of personnel.
The first to go — and the most deserving — is former Congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, formerly a Republican from Michigan. Slated, some say, to be the new director of the CIA, Rogers was a key force in obstructing and delaying the Benghazi investigation in order to shield his wife, Kristi, from scrutiny.
Kristi Rogers ran a private military contracting firm, Aegis Defense Services, to provide security to U.S. diplomatic missions abroad. Aegis had won several major contracts, likely through Mrs. Rogers’ influence as the wife of the House Intel Committee. Although not directly responsible for security at Benghazi, her firm had significant responsibilities in the area.
Perhaps motivated by these family concerns, Congressman Rogers blocked the formation of a special committee to investigate Benghazi. When the committee was set up, over Rogers’ objections, it didn’t do much to clarify what happened at Benghazi and why, but it did lead to the disclosure of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. Without this committee, led by Congressman Trey Gowdy, Hillary might well have been elected president.
The influence of lobbyists for foreign governments is, in particular, a key part of the degradation of ethics and standards in contemporary Washington DC. Pence should continue his efforts to clean house by acting to implement the reform agenda articulated by candidate Donald Trump in his October speech at Gettysburg banning former executive branch employees from lobbying within a five year window after their departure.
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