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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin chooses Trump’s EPA chief to serve as senior advisor

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for GOP Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin confirmed the governor’s selection of Andrew Wheeler, a former Trump administration official and lobbyist for coal companies, to be a senior adviser.

The hiring comes after Democrats in the Virginia state Senate were able to stop Wheeler from being picked for a key Cabinet post.

Youngkin had originally nominated Wheeler, who under former President Donald Trump led the Environmental Protection Agency, to fulfill the role as secretary of natural and historic resources.

Even though it is rare for the Virginia General Assembly to block Cabinet nominations, Democrats in the Senate emphasized that they could not support Wheeler for the position as he headed a rollback of several environmental protections during his service in the Trump White House.

“We received a letter from 150 former EPA employees who suggested that Mr. Wheeler had undermined the work of EPA and worked against the environmental interests of this country,” said Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a Democrat of Bath County, during a committee hearing regarding the nomination. “We think that members of the governor’s Cabinet ought to be people that unite us Virginians.”

The decision to block Wheeler’s nomination lead to a widening partisan split in the state’s capital city of Richmond in the recent weeks that includes more issues than simply environmental policy.

Back in February, Republicans in the House of Delegates voted against confirming 11 state panel appointments that were chosen by former governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, which again went against tradition.

Youngkin is not the first governor of the state to return a rejected Cabinet nominee as an adviser. When Democrats opposed efforts by former Republican governor Bob McDonnell to nominate Robert Sledd for the secretary of commerce and trade, McDonnell then made Sledd an unpaid senior economic adviser.

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