In his first week in office, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has said and done so many bad things, it’s hard to keep track. That includes Youngkin’s picks for various posts in his administration, which Youngkin is stocking with a mix of relatively “normal” Republicans along with a bunch of right wingnuts from top to bottom.
Now obviously, when someone wins an election, they have a right to pick their team. Also obviously, there is reluctance among General Assembly Democrats to fight too many of these battles, in part because they don’t want to be accused of “playing politics” and in part because they don’t want all their legislation killed.
But all that doesn’t mean: a) we have to be ok with some of the most extreme members of Youngkin’s team; b) the General Assembly shouldn’t exercise its authority, in particularly egregious cases (e.g., Andrew Wheeler for sure, maybe a few others as well!), as a co-equal branch of government with the power to reject cabinet-level picks (or at least to watch them like a hawk!). With that, here are eight of the worst Youngkin administration appointments/nominations so far. Feel free to add more in the comments section…
- ANDREW WHEELER: Obviously, former Trump EPA head Andrew Wheeler would be beyond atrocious as Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources, and his nomination should be rejected by the Virginia state senate as soon as possible. As Fairfax County Board members James Walkinshaw put it, “Wheeler’s tenure at the EPA was a *disaster* from an environmental perspective, and I would recommend for us on this Board if Mr. Wheeler says we should turn right on an environmental issue, we should turn left. If he says we should go down, we should go up. If we says we should do x, we should do y. “
- BRYAN SLATER: Youngkin’s nominee for Labor Secretary, “Bryan” Slater, would be terrible at this job. Among other things, Slater worked in the Trump administration and for the virulently anti-union/anti-labor Koch brothers network; held a senior position at an “anti-abortion law firm and advocacy group” which “opposes abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, and certain contraceptive methods”; etc. His nomination should be roundly rejected by the Virginia State Senate.
- KAY COLE JAMES: Youngkin’s pick for Secretary of the Commonwealth is, among other things, not a friend of LGBTQ Virginians. According to GLAAD, James tweeted, “The #EqualityAct is anything but equality. This bill would shut down businesses and charities, politicize medicine, endanger parental rights, and open every female bathroom and sports team to biological males.” She also “Signed a letter supporting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, which bypassed the State Department’s existing human rights infrastructure, instead applying ‘natural law,’ a conservative religious term for homophobic and transphobic views.” And she headed up the hard-right Heritage Foundation, about which Equity Forward wrote, “The Heritage Foundation’s policies are as extreme as those of the Family Research Council, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group. Heritage dedicates significant energy to extremist policy recommendations that hinder access to abortion and birth control and discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals.” Another Youngkin nomination that should be rejected by the Virginia State Senate…
- DR. MARTY MAKARY: This appointment, to head up Youngkin’s medical advisory team, can’t be rejected by the Virginia General Assembly, but if it could be rejected, it should be. Among other things, Makary is a Fox “News” talking head who falsely argued we’d have “herd immunity” by April 2021, cheered college students “pushing back [against COVID precautions] like we saw during the Vietnam War,” etc. Bonkers.
- ELIZABETH SCHULTZ: This one’s off the charts in terms of unsuitability for the job of Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction. That’s right, our old pal Elizabeth Schultz is about as far-right as you can get, is virulently anti-LBGTQ, is an election “Big Lie” aficionado, yearns to have “Eurocentric history” taught in schools, like ranting about “globalism”/”socialism”/Soros/Maddow/etc., you name it. The fact that Youngkin would name Schultz as Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction tells you everything you need to know about him.
- JILLIAN BALOW: Youngkin’s pick as Superintendent of Public Instruction (Elizabeth Schultz’s boss), Jillian Balow, is a “Critical Race Theory opponent” from Wyoming, who “supported a proposed Wyoming bill that would require K-12 schools to publish lists of instructional materials, among other provisions.” “According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Balow endorsed the bill alongside its patrons, one of whom described the legislation as an effort to prevent ‘the indoctrination found in the critical race theory curriculum that has been pushed by the far-left and has found its way into some classrooms.'” And, as the Virginia Mercury reported, “Balow has also publicly opposed a proposed program from the administration of President Joe Biden that would offer grants to teachers who include ‘racially, ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse perspectives’ in history and civics education.” So…is this someone who should be in charge of public instruction in Virginia?
- ANGELA SAILOR: Youngkin’s nominee for Director of the Office of Diversity, Opportunity (changed, illegally, from Equity) and Inclusion, Angela Sailor, “has written multiple pieces for the Heritage Foundation arguing that critical race theory is harmful to children, applauding the work of the 1776 commission, the advisory committee established by former President Trump to foster a ‘patriotic education’.” And “[i]n another piece, she claimed that the progressive buzzwords ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ act as a shroud to conceal what is actually critical race theory, a narrow lens of American history that treats racism as its founding and integral flaw.” So, needless to say, this nomination should be rejected by the Virginia State Senate.
- MIKE ROLBAND: Youngkin’s pick for Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) argued this past June that “we got to get this project [the Mountain Valley fracked-gas pipeline] built, finished and fully restored.” ‘Nuff said on that one.