Oct. 5, 2017

Report: More Than 40 Individuals With Close Ties to Trump or Pence Have Lobbied So Far in 2017

Alumni of ‘Drain the Swamp’ Campaign Dive Into D.C. Swamp By Cashing In on Ties

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Individuals with close ties to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are plunging into the swamp that candidate Trump pledged to drain and profiting by lobbying for corporate and foreign interests, a new report by Public Citizen shows.

At least 44 individuals with close ties to Trump or Pence have worked as registered lobbyists so far this year, according to the report, “Feeding Frenzy in Trump’s Swamp.” These lobbyists, most of whom worked on Trump’s campaign or transition team, are connected to nearly $42 million in client billings and in-house lobbying expenditures in 2017, with $32.2 million coming from domestic sources and $9.5 million from foreign entities.

Read the report (PDF). Watch Public Citizen’s animated explainer video.

To analyze the phenomenon of people using connections to Trump or Pence as a way to initiate or expand their lobbying careers, Public Citizen built a database of domestic and foreign lobbying reports, which are required under the Lobbying Disclosure Act and Foreign Agent Registration Act. Most of those included in Public Citizen’s analysis worked for Trump’s presidential campaign, transition, inauguration or administration. A few previously worked for Trump or Pence or had other personal relationships.

“Trump’s ‘drain the swamp’ rhetoric resonated because the public’s cynicism about Washington, D.C., ran so deeply,” said Taylor Lincoln, research director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and co-author of the report. “The race by Trump’s campaign alumni to cash in by diving into the swamp can’t help but confirm the public’s worst fears.”

Among the report’s other findings:

  • Seven of the 10 most lucrative lobbying clients for Trump or Pence-connected lobbyists have been foreign interests.

  • At least 22 people who worked on the Trump transition team have worked as registered lobbyists in 2017. They are associated with $19 million in billings.

  • At least five members of the Trump transition team were reported on federal lobbying forms covering the transition period as “no longer expected” to work as lobbyists, yet resumed lobbying for the same clients in the first half of 2017.

  • At least five transition team members quit representing their clients to comply with the transition team’s ethics code – only to resume lobbying for the same clients in the first half of 2017. At least four other transition team members have said that they never signed the ethics code.

  • Several alumni of the transition team appear to have violated the ethics code prohibition on lobbying on issues related to their transition team work within six months of leaving the team.

  • Trump has failed to fulfill many of the promises he made when he released his ethics plan to “drain the swamp,” such as asking the U.S. Congress to pass laws preventing individuals leaving government from lobbying for five years.

“If Trump’s campaign slogan had been Make the Swamp Great Again, he could now point to a campaign promise he had kept,” said Alan Zibel, research director for Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency project and co-author of the report. “It is ironic and sad that Trump’s victory can be attributed at least in part to an election pledge he has violated from the very start of his administration.”