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Hullabaloo


Monday, April 17, 2017

 
Stocking the swamp with sharks and piranhas

by digby



He's not draining it, that's for sure. Pro Publica:
President Trump has stocked his administration with a small army of former lobbyists and corporate consultants who are now in the vanguard of the effort to roll back government regulations at the agencies they once sought to influence, according to an analysis of government records by the New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica.

The Times adds new details to our previous reporting on Trump’s weakening of ethics rules and former lobbyists working on regulations they opposed on behalf of private clients just months ago.

The Times scrutinized financial disclosures of top White House staffers and found that the lobbyists and consultants in their ranks had more than 300 recent corporate clients and employers, including Apple and Anthem, the insurance company.

One striking case involves Michael Catanzaro, an appointee on the National Economic Council whose portfolio includes energy and environmental issues. Catanzaro was formerly a lobbyist for oil and coal companies that strenuously opposed the Obama administration’s clean power regulation. Three industry sources told the Times that Catanzaro is now working on that same issue in the Trump administration.

Even under Trump’s weakened ethics rules, former lobbyists like Catanzaro are not supposed to work on issues that they formerly had lobbied on.

Still, under Trump’s executive order, he can issue waivers at any time to staffers, Catanzaro included, for any reason, and never disclose it.

Even the federal government’s top ethics official, Walter Shaub, who runs the Office of Government Ethics, is being kept in the dark.

“There’s no transparency, and I have no idea how many waivers have been issued,” Shaub told the Times.

At the Labor Department, there are at least two former lobbyists appointed by Trump who previously sought to influence agency regulations. One worked for a financial service firm fighting attempts to regulate financial advisers who manage retirement investments. Another, Geoff Burr, was the top government affairs official for the construction industry trade association, lobbying the agency on matters related to wages and workplace safety.

The hiring of dozens of lobbyists represents a reversal from Trump’s statements during the campaign, when he said he would have “no problem” banning lobbyists from his administration.

The White House did not respond to specific questions from the Times. Instead, it offered this statement: “The White House requires all of its employees to work closely with ethics counsel to ensure compliance and has aggressively required employees to recuse or divest where the law requires.”

Members of the public don't need to worry their pretty little heads about any of this. Trump knows best.

His followers are fine with it. When he said he was going to drain the swamp they didn't expect him to drain it of rich successful winners like himself. They thought he was going to "lock her up."