Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

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. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trump is Hiring Lobbyists and Top Ethics Official Says "There's No Transparency"

In one case, an official working on energy regulation recently lobbied for oil and coal companies—but the White House won’t say whether he received an ethics waiver

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.”

We’ve also reached out to the White House for comment.

In another blow to transparency, the administration announced Friday it will keep White House visitor logs secret, dropping the Obama-era practice of regularly posting that information.

Those logs offered the public a window into who was getting face time with the president and his staff. They were also used by journalists in countless stories: ProPublica, for example, used the visitor logs for a story last year about a lobbying campaign to push through a controversial airline merger. The logs showed that Rahm Emanuel visited the White House after meeting with airline executives who recruited him to push for the merger.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'There Is No Military Solution': Jayapal, Lee Demand Diplomacy on Ukraine

"We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis," said the progressive Democrats.

Jake Johnson ·


Gun-Maker Slammed for 'Children's Assault Rifles' Based on AR-15

"At first glance, this comes across as a grotesque joke," said one gun control advocate. "On second look, it's just grotesque."

Jessica Corbett ·


Biden Urged to Nominate Black Woman to Supreme Court as Breyer Says He'll Retire

"President Biden has an opportunity to secure a seat on the bench for a justice committed to protecting our democracy and the constitutional rights of all Americans, including the freedom to vote."

Brett Wilkins ·


Dems Demand Biden Stop Maintaining Saudi Jets Causing 'Untold Suffering' in Yemen

"Continued servicing of these jets could make the United States complicit in these likely war crimes," tweeted Rep. Tom Malinowski.

Andrea Germanos ·


New Analysis Exposes 'Bogus' Job-Creation Claims of Fossil Fuel Industry

Oil and gas corporations say that curbing extraction will hurt employment, but new research shows they have increased production and fired workers at the same time.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo