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November 01, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

ClimateDepartment of Commerce

Gina Raimondo Should (Still) Fire NHC Acting Director Jamie Rhome

Last month, Jamie Rhome, the current Acting Director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), effectively rejected settled climate science while discussing the then-potential severity and impact of Hurricane Ian. In that interview, Rhome said he would “caution against” linking the intensity of Hurricane Ian to climate change. To be clear, there is no question or ambiguity on this link. The worsening severity of extreme weather events as a result of climate change is something that has been firmly established, for years, by other federal agencies – like NASA – and also by international research bodies – like the National Academies – which makes Rhome’s refusal to do so all the more baffling. 

October 31, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Congressional OversightDepartment of Homeland SecurityDepartment of JusticeEthics in Government

A Crisis Of (Un)Accountability: Amidst Profound Political Cruelty, Ethics Matter More Than Ever

The news was flooded in September with images, reports, and increasingly abhorrent context for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ trafficking of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard as a political stunt. DeSantis’ actions, and those of his aides, are of course potentially illegal, as was asserted by a Texas sheriff who opened a criminal investigation into the spectacle. This latest sadistic political posturing came at the cost of real people fleeing real persecution, but there is also a crucial piece of this awful puzzle that hasn’t been fully explored. Why did Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents, funded by federal dollars, allegedly forge documents for migrants knowing (even if the migrants themselves didn’t) that their flights were not destined for the locales DHS agents made their immigration proceedings beholden to?

October 17, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Executive BranchIndependent Agencies

Independent Agency Update Summer 2022

Personnel is policy, which means that the people who make up our federal institutions matter. Which means that the partisan Republican assault on the staffing up of the federal agencies that regulate so much of the public’s everyday life also matters greatly. Unfortunately, as we have highlighted for months and will continue to highlight for as long as it persists, the federal government is being gutted from the inside out by a blockade of overdue qualified leadership. 

August 19, 2022 | The American Prospect

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed

Congressional OversightEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchRevolving Door

Where Has Congress Been on Trump Holdovers?

The public hearings conducted by the House Select Committee have exceeded many Democrats’ expectations, not only as conversation-changing political theater, but also as a venue to uncover vital information. For example, the country now knows that Secret Service text messages from January 6th were deleted from phones shortly thereafter in what the agency has called a “planned migration.” This is what congressional oversight activities should do: extract truths from the halls of power and pursue public accountability accordingly.

August 17, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

De-Trumpification

Corrupt Cuffari and our Continued Case for De-Trumpification

Donald Trump is not the only person who has been keeping evidence from law enforcement. The news cycle has been rocked for weeks by revelations that Secret Service agents deleted text messages, wiped their phones, and otherwise disappeared evidence related to their activities during Donald Trump’s attempted coup. These revelations are horrifying, as are the profound dangers such actions pose to our collective safety. Of course, it’s not just the threat to our national, personal, and political security that should inspire terror, but also how these behaviors fundamentally challenge the most effective tool that the public has to ensure accountability from its government: transparency.

July 26, 2022

Dorothy Slater Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

FOIA Request

Climate

Fossil Fuel-Tied Legal Experts Are the Main Critics of a Climate Emergency Declaration

months of dedicated advocacy and both public and private pressure from environmental groups which insisted an emergency declaration was necessary to meet the moment, it seemed like Biden was finally ready to respond. But the declaration didn’t come, and in the days since, PoliticoPro’s EnergyWire and GreenWire have given spotlights to legal experts opining on the legal and political merits of such a declaration. 

July 08, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Independent Agencies

The Extraordinary (Time) Costs of Senate Republican Nomination Blockades

There are at least 366 presidentially appointed positions requiring Senate confirmation that are still awaiting a nominee or have nominees already going through the long, arduous, confirmation process. However, a process that has long been notorious for how time-consuming and antiquated it is, is intentionally being made even more difficult by nefarious Republican bad actors that are weaponizing Senate rules against supremely qualified nominees specifically to hinder the health of the federal government and to devastate President Biden’s agenda. 

July 01, 2022 | The American Prospect

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal Mekedas Belayneh Glenna Li

Op-Ed

Executive BranchIndependent Agencies

In The Wake Of "Dobbs," Biden Leans on Familiar Excuses for Inaction

During his campaign, now-President Biden loved likening his image to that of FDR. But when a rogue U.S. Supreme Court threatened to overturn the sweeping reforms of FDR’s New Deal, Roosevelt directly challenged their gross power grab by threatening court expansion coupled with expansive judicial reforms. The controversial move paid off; the Court subsequently backed down and FDR preserved the slate of New Deal–era reforms that kept the working class alive during the depths of the Great Depression and formed the basis for much more broadly shared prosperity in the subsequent decades.

June 13, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Almost Half Of U.S. Attorney’s Offices Have No Permanent Nominee. Where’s Biden’s Urgency?

This month President Biden nominated five additional people to helm the 93 districts of the Office of the United States Attorney. These five nominees brought Biden’s total nominations for the office up to just 53 out of 92 nominees for the office, or a little more than half. The vast majority of these nominations have occurred in states with a Democratic Senatorial delegation with many of these seats held hostage by Republicans wielding a racist Senate tradition to arbitrarily obstruct the process and these crucial seats nationwide. Now, nearly a year and a half into Biden’s presidency, the fact that almost half of these positions are still left without a nominee is a glaring indictment of Biden’s failure to prioritize these critically important positions. 

June 13, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal Mekedas Belayneh

Blog Post

FDAGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

The Decades-Long Food Failure at the FDA

In 2008, a deadly salmonella outbreak from contaminated peanut products killed nine and sickened over 700 people. In the aftermath, the peanut executives who poisoned people with food they knew was contaminated received decades-long prison sentences, an all-too-rare case of a corporate criminal being held responsible for the harm they caused. Contemporary public outrage also helped to fuel a push for more structural reform to the food safety regulatory system as a whole. Shortly after the outbreak, the Obama administration began whipping bipartisan congressional support for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which sought to prevent future food safety crises by expanding and strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority over food. FSMA ultimately passed both the Senate and the House by wide margins and enjoyed broad public support when finally enacted in 2011.