As President Trump marks his first six months in office, United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) released their “Drain the Swamp Report Card” tracking 193 former lobbyists and corporate insiders who have worked for President Trump since his election, giving the president a failing grade on his pledge to “drain the swamp.”
Despite signing an Executive Order promising to slow the revolving door between government and the private sector, President Trump has brought on an average of more than one swamp-creature for every day he has been in office. Over the course of his transition and during the first six months of his administration, President Trump has appointed or nominated at least 160 current and former lobbyists, including 81 individuals who were registered as lobbyists within the past two years. In addition, President Trump has relied on the advice and service of at least 37 industry insiders, including Wall Street executives and DC-based corporate consultants.
“President Trump reneged on his promise to ‘drain the swamp.’ Instead of turning away lobbyists and Washington insiders, he has welcomed them into the White House with open arms,” said Senator Warren. “Personnel is policy, and President Trump’s army of lobbyists are more interested in lining the pockets of their long-time employers and corporate buddies than in making life better for America’s working families.”
“We all heard the ‘drain the swamp’ chants at Trump rallies. Now the Trump administration is knee-deep in special interest lobbyists and industry insiders who spent their careers trying to bring special interest influence into the agencies they now lead – or simply tear the agencies down,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We need an open and transparent government that fights for the health, safety, and wellbeing of the American people. Instead, we’ve got a government filling with swamp creatures out to rig the system for themselves and their patrons.”
The report describes the breadth and depth of corporate influence on the Trump Administration, finding numerous examples of President Trump’s appointees are designing policies specifically that benefit special interests. The report includes detailed descriptions of White House policies crafted by Washington lobbyists and insiders that help pharmaceutical companies, for-profit colleges, big banks, and the oil and gas industry — all at the expense of the American people.
The “Drain the Swamp Report Card” follows a letter from Senator Warren to President Trump shortly after his election, raising concerns about the special interest lobbyists and industry insiders staffing his transition team, and promising to continue monitoring his hiring of others going forward. The report was compiled in the intervening months, after extensive research of public financial and lobbying disclosures, White House press releases, and employment histories, and lists 192 current and former lobbyists and corporate insiders employed by the Trump Transition and Administration, including:
• Geoffrey Burr, Chief of Staff at the Department of Transportation and “Confirmation Lead” for Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao during the Trump Transition. Until September 2015, Burr was a lobbyist at Associated Builders and Contractors. Burr also briefly served as the Special Assistant to the Secretary the Department of Labor, where he worked to delay the Labor Department’s silica rule, which aims to protect construction workers from toxic substances in the workplace
• Michael Catanzaro, Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Energy and Environmental Policy at the National Economic Council and advisor to the Trump Transition on Energy Policy. Catanzaro is a former Partner at the CGCN Group, where he represented Devon Energy, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and Encana Oil and Gas as recently as 2017. The White House issued an ethics waiver for Catanzaro in May that permits him to “participate in broad policy matters and matters of general applicability relating to the Clean Power Plan, the WOTUS rule, and methane regulations,” in spite of Executive Order 13770.
• Timothy Clark, White House Liaison at the Department of Health and Human Services, is the former President of the Clark Strategy Group, a lobbying firm that has represented the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Clark lobbied the federal government on behalf of pharmaceutical company Eisai Inc. as recently as 2017.
• Gary Cohn, the former President and Chief Operating Officer at Goldman Sachs, is the Chief Economic Advisor at the National Economic Council. Cohn received a $285 million payout after leaving Goldman Sachs to work for the Administration.
• Taylor Hansen, a former for-profit college lobbyist at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (currently known as the Career Education Colleges and Universities), worked as a Special Assistant to the Secretary at the Department of Education before resigning in March 2017. In 2016, Hansen lobbied the Department of Education on issues and regulations impacting for-profit colleges.
• David Malpass, the President’s nominee to serve as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, is currently the President of Encima Global, a consulting firm for Wall Street clients. Malpass served as the Chief Economist of Bear Stearns right before the financial crash and wrote in 2007 that “housing and debt markets are not that big a part of the U.S. economy, or of job creation.” Malpass also served as a co-leader of the Agency Action Team on Economic issues during the Trump Transition.
On the campaign trail, President Trump promised Americans that he would “stop the gravy train for all these consultants, and all these people that are ripping off our country,” and pledged to “expand the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants, advisors, all these different things.” But instead of kicking them out, President Trump brought nearly 200 of them into the White House.
A copy of the full report is available here.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!