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President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

'Swamp Is Anything But Drained': Report Details 281 Lobbyists in Trump Administration Over First Two Years

"The swamp is Trump hiring 281 lobbyists in just a couple years of his administration."

Eoin Higgins

A new report from ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations, published Tuesday, found that President Donald Trump's campaign vow to "drain the swamp" of Washington corruption is not being backed up in practice as his administration counts one lobbyists for every 14 appointees.

"Swamp things," tweeted Hollywood Reporter editor-at-large Kim Masters.

The report relied on names and information in ProPublica's "Trump Town" database, and added hundreds more for the Tuesday report:

We tracked the lobbyists as part of an update to Trump Town, our database of political appointees. We've added the names of 639 new staffers with the administration and the financial disclosures of 351 political appointees who have filled different positions over the past year, and we tracked the careers of 338 who departed government during the same period.

Despite that plethora of information, however, the administration's recalcitrance in providing information on recusals and influence makes it difficult to ascertain the full scope of influence lobbyists have on the industries they once worked for in the private sector. Nonetheless, Tuesday's reporting indicates the Trump administration has quadrupled the President Barack Obama administration's number of lobbyists in government in half the time.

With a combination of weakened rules and loose enforcement easing the transition to government and back to K Street, Trump's swamp is anything but drained. The number of lobbyists who have served in government jobs is four times more than the Obama administration had six years into office. And former lobbyists serving Trump are often involved in regulating the industries they worked for.

Some lobbyists use their time in the Trump administration to get access; others, like Health and Human Services deputy secretary for legislation for mandatory health Colin Roskey, were briefly in charge of departments that can hand out fat contracts to former clients. 

The reporting "suggests that lobbyists see themselves as more effective in furthering their clients' special interests from inside the government rather than from outside," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ethics chief counsel Virginia Canter told ProPublica. Canter described the number of lobbyists in the administration as "staggering."

"With the new data just released, Trump Town grew to include 3,859 names, 2,319 financial disclosures and hundreds of other records for Trump's staffers," ProPublica reported.

Young Turks host John Iadarola put Tuesday's report in context of the president's promises.

"The swamp is Trump hiring 281 lobbyists in just a couple years of his administration," said Iadarola.


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