President Donald Trump has named more than 350 federal lobbyists to posts in his administration, a figure much larger than previously reported and an indication of how far afield Trump is from his vow to “drain the swamp.”
Far from cutting off Washington insiders, Trump sprinkled them throughout the executive branch, with four former lobbyists now in the Cabinet and a former Interior Secretary recently taking a job at a lobbying firm.
In all, at least 356 lobbyists have been appointed to or nominated to positions in the White House, Cabinet departments, independent agencies, advisory councils and Trump’s presidential transition team, according to an American Bridge 21st Century review of the federal lobbying registry and hundreds of administration records. (That figure only includes those who officially registered as lobbyists. Officials like Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Acosta and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who have worked in government-relations roles but didn’t register, are not counted.)
More than half of them, 191, lobbied the same agencies they worked for in the Trump administration. More than a dozen have left the administration and have already lobbied their former agencies, defying an ethics pledge barring them from doing so for five years.
The numbers were first reported Friday by The Washington Post.
In 2016, Trump railed against the political class and said he would ban lobbyists from his administration, and shortly after taking office, Trump issued an executive order barring former administration officials from lobbying their agencies for five years.
At least 13 former officials appear to be flouting the anti-lobbying rules.
Among them is Shannon Flaherty McGahn, the wife of former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who left her post in the Treasury Department early last year and in December was named the top lobbyist for the National Association of Realtors.
In January, the group reported that, in the fourth quarter of 2018, McGahn lobbied Congress and several executive agencies, including the Treasury Department.
Marcus Peacock was a senior advisor at the White House Office of Management and Budget before going to work for the Business Roundtable. According to the group’s filings, Peacock lobbied not only the White House but OMB specifically within months of leaving his job there.
Earlier this month, ProPublica noted several other similar cases, including Jared C. Sawyer, the was deputy assistant secretary for financial institutions policy at the Treasury Department before leaving to lobby the same agency on behalf of those same institutions.