It didn’t get much notice in the mainstream press, but in 1998 a high-level Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bureaucrat reportedly abused his office by fund-raising for a Democratic congressional candidate.
Bill Yellowtail is well, was the controversial EPA Region 8 director, in charge of a vast area that includes the states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Montana. The office employs 700 bureaucrats and has its regulatory fingers in pretty much every pie out in those parts, from asbestos abatement projects to mining to vehicle-emissions testing.
Last week, Mr. Yellowtail’s boss, EPA Administrator Carol Browner put him on temporary leave without pay for allegedly helping to raise money for the candidacy of Robert “Dusty” Deschamps, a liberal Democrat who holds views that are simpatico with Mr. Yellowtail’s anti-car, anti-business, pro-regulatory agenda. Surprising? Not especially. Like many EPA bureaucrats, Mr. Yellowtail has never made any secret of his left-leaning ideology; the problem is that it appears he tried to confer his and his agency’s imprimatur upon the candidacy of a politician likely to enhance the reach of Big Brother’s regulatory apparatus. What’s alarming is that few outside of Washington officialdom have any idea how politicized federal agencies such as EPA have become.
Mr. Yellowtail has been officially suspended from his $130,000 per year job. “We feel this is serious enough that he needs to step aside,” EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Michael McCabe in Washington, told The Washington Post. Specifically, Mr. Yellowtail is charged with violating the federal Hatch Act, which forbids federal workers from soliciting campaign contributions; Mr. Yellowtail affixed his name to a 1998 fund-raising letter on behalf of Mr. Deschamps. When word got out that a high EPA honcho was actively politicking on behalf of a Democratic office-seeker, his superiors moved in to quash the controversy and to limit the political fallout by putting him on unpaid leave. The Post reported Mr. Yellowtail would defend himself against the charges in proceedings before the Merit Systems Protection Board.
That reportage of this and similar incidents has been sparse and cursory is a barometer of just how indifferent the major media has become to omnipotent and self-perpetuating government. People need to understand that their tax dollars are not only paying for a regulatory-welfare state that interferes with them at every turn. They may also also paying the salaries of overly politicized bureaucrats such as Mr. Yellowtail. The irony is that he himself ran for office in 1996 as a Democrat and lost; the voters rejected him and his proposals. Aiding candidates under the table is no substitute for a real mandate.