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Trump's NASA Nominee Inches Forward Despite Criticism, Controversy And Scandal

The Senate is torn over Bridenstine.

CARLY CASSELLA
18 APR 2018
 

On Wednesday, the US Senate narrowly advanced President Trump's controversial nominee for the head of NASA, Representative Jim Bridenstine.

A former Navy pilot, Bridenstine's experience running a large organization, let alone a leading scientific organization, is nil. And, to top it all off, the nominee has no background in science.

 

Oh yeah, here's another cherry: Bridenstine is also a climate denier.

Last year, during his Senate committee hearing, Bridenstine side-stepped several simple questions about climate science.

When asked, for instance, to what extent humans have contributed to climate change, Bridenstine replied, "That is a question I do not have an answer to."

"You don't know that that's the scientific consensus?" asked Senator Brian Schatz, baffled.

And while Bridenstine has assured members of Congress that he acknowledges the importance of NASA's Earth Science Division, in the past Bridenstine has proposed moving earth science research out of the agency altogether.

Despite all of these criticisms, in the end, the Senate voted 50 to 48 to advance Bridenstine's nomination.

But it's not over yet. On the very same day that the Senate advanced his nomination, The Daily Beast reported that prior to his time in Congress, Bridenstine drove a charity that he ran into significant financial losses.

The scoop here is not Bridenstine's apparent inability to run even a small organization. The true scandal is that some of the charity's financial losses came about because Bridenstine used its resources to benefit a company that he co-owned.

 

An investigation and review of public records by the Project on Government Oversight reveals that back in 2008, Bridenstine used the non-profit Tulsa Air and Space Museum's own cash reserves to bring his struggling company, the Rocket Racing League, to a 2010 air show in Tulsa.

The show was a boost for Bridenstine's rocket racing company, which was disappointing investors at the time.

"This is a classic example of the use of a charity's assets for private benefit," Marc Owens, an expert on tax law, told The Daily Beast.

"This could have jeopardized the Museum's status as a tax-exempt organization."

Bridenstine has vehemently denied mismanaging the non-profit.

On Thursday, Senators will debate and give their final decision about Bridenstine. With the Senate torn over his nomination, a scandal like this could be Bridenstine's final undoing.