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Despite Trump’s Own Ethics Rules, Dozens of Former Lobbyists Appear to Work in the Administration on Issues on Which They Lobbied

33 of 37 Former Lobbyists Have no Waiver But Face Conflicts of Interest in Their Government Positions

WASHINGTON - In what appears to be a breach of Trump’s own ethics rules, dozens of former lobbyists who serve in the Trump administration handle the same specific issues on which they lobbied within the past two years, a new Public Citizen report shows.

President Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” when he got to Washington, D.C.  He issued ethics Executive Order No. 13770, which allows former lobbyists to immediately join the administration, but to lessen conflicts of interest, they are not permitted to work on “specific issue areas” that they lobbied on unless they receive a waiver.

Yet Trump’s appointments have included not just former lobbyists, but dozens of lobbyists whose governmental responsibilities fall into the same specific issue areas on which they lobbied within the past two years. Of 37 such appointees, only four have received waivers from the ethics rules.

“The numbers of lobbyist-appointees with conflicts of interest reflect the widespread disregard for ethics in the Trump administration,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “There appears to be very little awareness of the ethics rules among appointees and even less willingness to enforce these rules by the White House itself.”

The report, titled “The Company We Keep: Lobbyists and the Prevalence of Conflicts of Interest in the Trump Administration,” identifies 133 former lobbyists appointed to posts in the administration, 37 of which have clear conflicts of interest and another 13 of which are in positions described so vaguely that it is not possible to determine whether a conflict exists.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “Trump has filled only a fraction of his administration positions and there appears to be no complete list of all appointees made publicly available. The tally of lobbyist-appointees is inevitably going to grow.”

Read the report.


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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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