McNicoll: Don’t Let Democrats Burrow Into Federal Agencies

In case you haven’t noticed, the people who tried to force Donald Trump to say he would accept the results of the election, no matter what, have themselves found it difficult to accept the results.

There are whimsical recount efforts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – three states the Democrats were shocked to lose. There are death threats to the people who will vote in the Electoral College, as well as campaigns to try to convince them not to vote as their constituents directed.

There was a conference in Washington on Monday in which federal employees pledged to continue to pursue President Obama’s federal workplace policies and ignore any reform proposals from the new Trump administration.

There are tiny battles being fought all across government to keep the wheels of government from spinning efficiently as they are turned to the new goals of the new administration. Perhaps the most pernicious of these is the practice of burrowing, in which those who further the mission of the current administration find places within government to continue to pursue those goals even when the new administration orders otherwise.

Often, this takes the form of “converting” non-career appointed positions to career positions in which civil service and other protections apply. Congress created these agencies to carry out the programs of the administration in power. People are policy, and these positions should change hands when the administrations do. This practice keeps in place people who quite possibly are hostile to the goals of their boss, which is neither productive nor legal.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, already has sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson urging him to enforce the law that prevents this type of burrowing.

But there is another type, in which people try to shed their skin, downplay their partisan history and sneak into a new administration.

For instance, in a crackdown on what they view as “politicized science,” President-elect Trump’s transition officials have said he will eliminate or at least reduce the role of NASA in Earth-centric research, such as climate monitoring, and refocus the agency on space exploration, its actual purpose.

Climate monitoring would move to more appropriate agencies, and NASA’s role as a political player in the global warming debate would be sharply reduced.

To prevent this, Democrats are casting about for people who have the requisite expertise to try to place them in key career roles within NASA and thwart the administration’s objectives.

Lori Garver is one candidate for such a role.

Garver has worked at NASA twice – for five years during the Clinton administration as a policy and planning associate and from 2009 to 2013 as a deputy administrator with a variety of consulting gigs in between. Her second stint was viewed by some as a move to put an Obama loyalist in a No.2 position as a check on her boss, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

She has served as a policy adviser to the presidential campaigns of John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and President Obama. She calls the deep-space exploration favored by the Trump administration “wishful thinking” and works to keep alive earth-centric, often crony capitalist cargo and crew programs.

She is a big fan of Elon Musk and suggests NASA should get out of the business of competing with his Space-X firm to reach Mars first or resume missions to the moon and instead focus on basic research that enables his success. Trump ran against the crony capitalism that has enabled Musk to raise nearly $5 billion in government money to fund his businesses.

In other words, whoever you think is right or wrong in this debate, she is a partisan Democrat with policy aims directly opposed to the publicly stated views of the people for whom she seeks to work. It’s not that she’s not qualified to work in an administration; it’s that she shouldn’t work in this administration.

We’ve read a lot recently about how you don’t actually vote for a president in this country. Rather, you vote for electors who vote for your candidate at the Electoral College. Beyond that, you’re also voting not just for a president but for the 4,000 or so people presidents appoint to run the government.

Trump officials are sorting through hundreds of thousands of resumes for those positions. It’s easy to put the Lori Garvers of the world in the “deserves another look” category. She has experience in the upper reaches of the agency, has been vetted and understands the challenges.

It’s easy, but it is not the right thing to do. As Hillary Clinton herself observed, there was a respect Democrats had for recent Republican presidential candidates, such as John McCain, Mitt Romney and even George W. Bush that the left simply doesn’t hold for Donald Trump. This is all-out war … the left is dedicated to doing whatever it can to keep him from succeeding.

And it starts with having people such as Lori Garver on the inside.


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