The official handpicked by Trump to oversee the protection of millions of railway passengers was forced to measure from disgrace, highlighting once again the government’s neglect of the national government and its ongoing mismanagement of their public trust.
Heath Hall, acting head of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) resigned from Politico raised concerns about him working as a public relations consultant whilst drawing a national paycheck.
The Department of Transportation told the outlet that Hall’s resignation was “effective immediately.”
Hall is from Madison County, Mississippi, in which he was working as a spokesman for a sheriff while also serving in his FRA role.
Hall — who owns a public relations and consulting firm in Madison County — pledged on a federal ethics form that the company would be “dormant” while he worked at the Department of Transportation. But as Politico noted, the firm took in payments from July to December of 2017.
The cavalier attitude towards ethics echoes Trump himself, who’s refused to divest from his company’s holdings. This has turned his possessions to a dumping ground for influence peddlers and large business expecting for Trump to put his hands on the scales on their behalf.
Throughout Trump’s first year in office, the FRA hasn’t had a permanent leader. Hall was picked to be the administrator of the agency in June 2017. He had a background in public relations, advertising, and ran for a congressional seat as a Republican in 1998 but was not successful.
The debacle comes just after three individuals were murdered and 100 others were hurt in an Amtrak crash in Washington state.
In addition to not filling positions in the industry overseeing rail safety, Trump has been pushing to roll back or delay security regulations.
Recently, the Transportation Department ruled that train cars transporting crude oil do not have to be outfitted with an electronic braking system. Regulations passed by the Obama administration had imposed the safety requirement. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) called the move “a senseless decision that endangers our communities by making oil by rail transportation less safe.”
Trump has set up corrupt officials to manage agencies with critical security duties while working to reverse existing safety regulations. Alone, both approaches are somewhat harmful. Together, millions of lives will be at stake.