Trump’s First Year: Influence-Peddling, Self-Dealing and Demolishing Safeguards

On the eve of the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s first year in the White House, Public Citizen has published a summary of findings from its research into Trump, with a particular focus on Trump’s swoon toward special interests, destruction of public protections and acts off self-dealing.

Trump maintained a stake in hundreds of businesses as of his May 2017 financial disclosure form and created at least 49 new businesses since announcing his candidacy for president (all but two of which were created prior to his inauguration for president).

  • Trump has not even attempted to fulfill four of the five promises he outlined in his campaign blueprint to “drain the swamp” and limit the influence of lobbyists.
  • Trump stocked his transition team with lobbyists. Within weeks of his election, Public Citizen counted 14 lobbyists on his transition team and several times as many people with business interests in the administration’s policies.
  • At least 133 past or present registered lobbyists had been appointed to the administration by mid-June 2017, including 36 who had lobbied recently on issues of direct relevance to their new government posts.
  • By mid-2017, 44 people who had worked on the Trump campaign or transition or had other close ties to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence had become registered lobbyists. They were associated with billings and in-house lobbying expenditures of nearly $42 million in the first half of 2017.
  • Nearly 70 percent of Trump’s subcabinet appointees were previously employed by corporations or their representatives.
  • Between Election Day and August 2017 Trump had held at least 385 meetings with corporate executives.
  • Regulations that the Trump administration has bragged about blocking would have done such things as addressing hazards that led to fatal coal mine explosions and industrial explosions from combustible dust, and afforded equal rights to same-sex couples in Medicare participating facilities.
  • Many have noted Trump’s unprecedented behavior in merging the business of the government with his personal businesses. We recently reported that 64 trade groups, businesses, candidates, foreign governments and political groups have been spending money at Trump’s properties since his inauguration.
  • Despite Trump’s repeated promises that his tax overhaul proposal would not benefit himself, his proposal’s estate tax repeal, alone, would have saved the Trump family somewhere between $593 million and $1.4 billion. The tax overhaul bill ended up doubling the estate tax exemption, but not repealing the tax.

“Populist Trump has given way to Corporatist Trump. Trump’s administration is turning the government into a full-service shop for corporate subsidies, regulatory rollbacks, influence-peddling and law enforcement holidays,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.

“Trump hasn’t just broken his promises, he’s made a mockery of them. He has validated every bit of the public’s cynicism about Washington, D.C., that propelled him to the White House,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen.