It is about the lowest-hanging fruit around to point out that Donald Trump has not “drained the swamp”—i.e. addressed Washington’s corporate lobbying and corruption problems—despite having made such drainage one of his main campaign promises. ProPublica has provided a valuable service, however, by actually doing the legwork on this observation and finding out just how many lobbyists the Trump administration has hired. The answer is “at least 187,” many of whom have been appointed to positions in which they can do favors for the clients they used to represent. (And who they will no doubt represent in the future.) From a New York Times write-up of the data:
The administration has granted at least 31 waivers to some former lobbyists and others who had private-sector jobs that overlap with their new federal assignments, according to the database. Among them is Erik Baptist, a senior deputy general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency. He previously worked for the American Petroleum Institute as a lobbyist on federal regulations related to renewable fuels.
Here are some other fun ones:
• Environmental Protection Agency official Troy Lyons worked as a lobbyist for British Petroleum.
• EPA deputy administrator nominee Andrew Wheeler lobbied on behalf of Murray Energy, which describes itself as “the largest underground coal mining company in America.”
• EPA official David Ross is a lawyer who represented industry clients in suits against the EPA.
• Health and Human Services official Laura Clay Trueman worked as a lobbyist for Aetna.
• Health and Human Services official Courtney Austin Lawrence worked for a health insurers’ lobbying association.
• Housing and Urban Development official Michael Kelley worked as a lobbyist for several real estate companies.
• FDA counsel Rebecca Kathleen Wood worked for Bayer Pharma and the pharmaceutical-industry lobbying group PhRMA.
Mmm … swamp water. (Disclosure: The author of this piece is registered to perform paid legislative advocacy on behalf of the Swamp Water Vendors’ Trade Association.)