'Fire The Swamp' Banner Flies Above Washington, D.C. During the Morning Commute
On Thursday morning, a banner reading, "FIRETHESWAMP.COM" flew over Washington, D.C. as congressmen and staffers went to work. The website advocates broad-based civil service reform, expanding the reforms passed at the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) to the rest of the federal government. In light of the Supreme Court's Wednesday ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, public employee unions may not be able to prevent such reform.
"The only way to drain the swamp is to fire the swamp," Natalia Castro, public outreach coordinator at Americans for Limited Government (ALG) told PJ Media. "We need to be able to fire underperforming employees."
Government employees enjoy many privileges and immunities that make the process of terminating bad employees long and arduous. This has created an toxic culture where a lack of accountability fosters poor performance, wasting taxpayer dollars and creating numerous scandals. ALG launched the "Fire the Swamp" campaign to fix that.
During the Obama presidency, scandal after scandal came out of the VA. Veterans died while waiting on secret wait lists. Staffers attempted to fire whistleblowers. A VA doctor gave out painkiller prescriptions like candy, leading a Wisconsin VA to be dubbed "Candy Land."
Sharon Helman, director at the Phoenix VA, was not fired until six months after the wait list scandal broke. After she was fired, she continued to collect pay on leave. She pled guilty to a felony, but she appealed her firing to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and a federal appeals court ruled her firing unconstitutional. Last year, President Trump finally fixed this loophole, but just for the VA.
According to Castro, the VA scandals "opened the floodgates of stories of abuse." In 2013, a special agent at the Atlanta office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sold multiple EPA cameras and camcorders at a pawnshop, costing the government $3,117. The U.S. attorney declined federal prosecution, but the employee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of probation on a felony conviction. The supervisor proposed a suspension — not firing — of only 120 days. But it gets worse.
After the employee appealed, the suspension was downgraded to 30 days. Yes, an EPA employee stole $3,000 in cameras, pawned them, was convicted of a felony, and kept her job with a slap on the wrist.
One employee was a registered sex offender and used a fabricated credential to run traffic lights. The emergency lights he installed on his vehicle violated his probation for the sex offender charge. He had been told to remove all law enforcement equipment from his vehicle in 1999. In 2006, the government declined to prosecute him, and in August 2013, he was finally arrested on probation violation.