Trump Administration Proposes Sponsorship Opportunities for Federal Agency Staff Positions and “Assets”

, former deputy director, Center for Science & Democracy | April 1, 2019, 9:46 am EDT
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Sports fans have long been familiar with their favorite stadiums being sponsored by companies. Under a new Trump administration proposal, positions within federal agencies—and, incredibly, “assets” such as federal lands—would be open to sponsorship by the highest bidder. We’d strongly encourage you to submit public comments on this ridiculous proposal here.

Under the plan, companies could sponsor and pay for the salaries of political appointees at a 500% premium. So with an adequate donation, the 3M Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, or the American Petroleum Institute Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, may become a reality as early as September 2019.

The sweeping proposal would also allow for the renaming of specific government “assets”, including national parks. And naming rights would not just be for companies and trade groups, as proposals from individuals would also be considered. Imagine if Yellowstone becames RogerStone, Joshua Tree becomes Josh Groban Tree, Bryce Canyon becomes Bryce Harper Canyon! At this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Arches National Park would eventually become the Golden Arches National Park.

Under this foolish proposal, federal “assets” such as Joshua Tree National Park could be renamed after companies, trade groups, or individuals. Photo: National Park Service.

Some industry trade groups, of course, lauded the move with generic, meaningless press statements. “These are exactly the types of public-private partnerships that will grow the economy and enable companies to take care of business,” said Cory Upshin, press secretary for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Agencies would also have the option to set up auction sites to name specific positions. Some expect that it might work similar to an Amazon headquarters-style competition, where companies and trade groups submit applications to fund some of the more competitive positions. Such activity is not unheard of under the Trump administration: the USDA currently has numerous communities and even a private citizen in Pennsylvania positioning themselves to be the new home of two agencies that Secretary Sonny Purdue wants to move out of Washington.

Naming rights for positions at both private and public universities are not uncommon. Many buildings and faculty positions are named after wealthy donors, and sometimes those donors try to inappropriately influence both research and classroom instruction.

Each sponsorship would need to be approved by a new advisory committee called the Commission on Labeling, Ownership, and Weighted Name Sponsorship. Some science advisory panel members who were recently canned from giving the EPA advice on particulate matter pollution would reportedly consider applying. “While this isn’t quite my definition of public service, at least I might be able to prevent the most offensive names from moving forward,” said Dr. Brandy N. Ames, one of the affected scientists.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced immediately that the agency would begin implementing the proposal before it is finalized, much as it has with other proposed rules over the past two and a half years.

In other news, polluting industries can kill as many birds as they want as long as they don’t do it on purpose, Trump advisors believe that more air pollution is good for you and particulate matter pollution doesn’t cause health problems, the Census Bureau wants to ask a question it hasn’t tested, the National Park Service wants you to shoot hibernating bear cubs in their dens, a former coal lobbyist is in charge at EPA, and the head guy at the Department of Interior used to lobby for the oil and gas industry and worked to dismantle the Endangered Species Act.

Again, you can submit public comments here. It all seems like some kind of joke, doesn’t it?

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  • DigginLife

    You guys!! You had me.

    • Michael Halpern

      Huzzah! We all need to cultivate those smiles, don’t we.