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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Special Interests Remain in Power

To those voters who thought that Trump would actually drain the swamp and end special-interest influence in Washington, a passage from T.E. Lawrence is appropriate:
We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves: yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep: and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked
for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.
Isaac Arnsdorf reports at Politico:
Lobbyists are all over Donald Trump's transition team, according to an organization chart obtained by POLITICO that shows who's guiding the handover for various agencies.

— Cindy Hayden of tobacco company Altria is in charge of HomelandSecurity.
— Steve Hart, the chairman of Williams & Jensen, is in charge of Labor. His clients include Visa, theAmerican Council of Life Insurers, Anthem, Cheniere Energy, Coca-Cola, General Electric, HSBC, Pfixer, PhRMA and United Airlines. He worked at the Labor Department in the Pension Welfare Benefits Program and on the Office of Management and Budget's ERISA Reorganization Task Force under Ronald Reagan.
— For the Energy Department, Michael McKenna of MWR Strategies lobbies for Engie (formerly GDF Suez), Southern Company and Dow Chemical.
— For Interior, David Bernhardt of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck lobbies for the Westlands Water District and used to represent Freeport LNG Expansion and Rosemont Copper Company. He was the Interior Department's solicitor, deputy solicitor, deputy chief of staff, counselor to the secretary of the Interior and director of the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs under George W. Bush.
— Michael Torrey, who has the Agriculture portfolio, has his own firm representing the American Beverage Association and the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau.
— Mira Ricardel, tasked with defense, isn't a registered lobbyist but is a consultant for Federal Budget IQ, a government research firm. Until recently she worked for Boeing.
— Dan DiMicco, overseeing the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, serves on Duke Energy's board and represents steel company Nucor (of which he used to be CEO) on the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and the Coalition for a Prosperous America.
— Paul Atkins, though not a lobbyist, is CEO of advisory firm Patomak Global Partners and charged with independent financial agencies.
— Ken Blackwell, in charge of domestic issues, isn't a lobbyist but is a senior fellow of the Family Research Council, which does lobbying.
Compare and contrast with the Bush 41 administration.  On November 16, 1988, Judith Havemann reported at The Washington Post:
President-elect George Bush, seeking to head off conflicts of interest that have plagued past transitions, will require extensive financial disclosure and a strict ethics pledge from every person who serves in his 73-day transition, the counsel for the transition said yesterday.

In the campaign, Bush repeatedly answered criticism of the Reagan administration's ethical lapses by promising to establish stiff rules to prevent conflicts of interest in a Bush administration. He also has promised to impose tougher rules on lobbying once he assumes the presidency.

For the first time, transition team members will be required to sign a five-part pledge as a condition of employment promising not to reveal or use inside information for private gain "at any time," according to the transition standards of conduct.

C. Boyden Gray, transition counsel, said Bush will attempt to "contain the problem" primarily through appointments.

"We are not going to appoint people to work in departments where they might come across information that would create conflicts," said Gray, the transition counsel. "An oil-and-gas person is not going to walk into the Energy Department."