Rick Perry, President Trump’s buffoon of an Energy Secretary, got caught on camera hugging a coal baron before letting the businessman write federal regulations. Now he’s been hit with a complaint (embedded below) for retaliating against the Department of Energy employee whose crucial leak – of public records, mind you –has impacted public policy in a fantastic way.
Perry now faces an investigation by the Inspector General for the budding scandal he himself ignited when he embraced notorious coal mine mogul Robert Murray, president of Murray Energy, who’s perhaps most famous for frivolously suing Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver.
The bear hug was caught on camera and lawfully released by DOE employee turned whistleblower Simon Edelman, whose revelation of his own public record photos led to immediate workplace retaliation.
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At issue is an “action plan” Murray has been working on for Perry and the Department of Energy. The 4-page document is specifically tailored to his company, and it calls for coal plants in specific regions served by Murray Energy to buy excessive coal inventories from his mines.
Edelman released the photo and told the media about the potential quid pro quo, which ultimately nixed the deal.
Secretary Perry still tried to adopt Murray’s four-page plan, but ultimately gave up that effort. The New York Times reports:
Mr. Edelman, who has not previously disclosed his identity as the source of the photographs, said in an interview that he wanted to expose the close relationship between the two men. Based on the “action plan” and conversations he overheard, Mr. Edelman said, Mr. Perry had tilted the administration’s energy policy to favor Murray Energy and other coal companies.
“It seemed like that was the right thing to do — exercising my First Amendment rights to get the information out there,” said Mr. Edelman, who had worked at the agency since 2015 and whose job included photographing events that the agency promoted in news releases, on the web and elsewhere.
Mr. Edelman said he decided to share the photos with the news media — The Washington Post published the images after In These Times — hoping to derail Mr. Perry’s proposed rule. The rule faced opposition from a cross section of environmental groups, energy companies, free-market advocates and former regulators, and last week, the energy commission rejected it.
In retaliation, Department of Energy employees tried to compell Edelman to erase the photos. When that didn’t work, he was placed on administrative leave.
Rick Perry first grew close with the coal man when Murray donated over $100,000 to the Texan’s 2012 presidential bid. His campaign infamously floundered when the former Texas Governor famously wanted to eliminate the DOE, but couldn’t even remember the agency’s name in a televised debate.
Murray also donated over $200,000 to the Trump campaign in 2016, leading to Edelman’s allegations of preferential treatment in the complaint.
Famed NSA whistleblower John Napier Tye is one of Simon Edelman’s lawyers, along with Mark Zaid, who together founded the legal non-profit Whistleblower Aid.
Zaid explained exclusively to the Washington Press why his client went to the media to expose Perry’s misconduct at the cost of his job. He eve lost his laptop computer, which the Department of Energy confiscated, possibly illegally.
According to Mark Zaid:
“The entire concept of whistleblowing in government is to reveal misconduct, fraud, illegal conduct or gross management. But generically it is to expose lies.”
“This case reveals the Secretary of Energy lied to the American public, and the whistleblower, who had nothing personal to gain, came forward to expose this action and suffered retaliation.”
“It’s not about how the whistleblower will be made whole but whether the right step was taken. And it was. Exactly what we would expect from civil servants.”
One of the first lines of resistance against the Trump Administration’s crooked plans are the brave men and women willing to risk their career federal civil jobs to expose corruption.
Simon Edelman only spent 15 minutes in the room during Rick Perry’s unseemly meeting with Murray, but his photos saved American citizens millions of dollars in corrupt transfers of funds to prop up the failing coal industry because that industry is buying off the Trump Administration.