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44 Trump Administration Officials Have Close Ties to the Koch Brothers, Public Citizen Finds

New Report Details How Allies and Former Employees of Republican Megadonors Are Influencing Trump Administration Policy.


Despite a rocky relationship during the 2016 presidential campaign between Donald Trump and the Koch brothers, the two Republican megadonors have infiltrated the Trump administration, with 44 Koch allies staffing the White House and other agencies, a Public Citizen report (PDF) finds.

More than one year after Trump's election, political operatives and policy experts who have worked at numerous Koch-funded organizations have fanned out through the Trump administration. They are taking jobs influencing policies about taxes, the environment, energy, education and health care - in service of the hard-right anti-government agenda espoused by right-wing organizations created by the Kochs.

Public Citizen's review of the Koch brothers' connections to the Trump administration and policy agenda in Washington, D.C., finds that:

  • 44 Trump administration officials have close ties to the Koch brothers and their political groups, particularly Vice President Mike Pence, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
  • Of the Koch allies who are working in the administration, most are in the White House, with 21 officials working there or nominated for White House jobs.
  • Koch allies also are staffing jobs at the EPA, the Interior Department, the Energy Department and the Treasury Department. The positions they are advocating overlap with the Kochs' economic interests in weakening regulatory enforcement, lowering corporate taxes, loosening environmental regulations and opening up public land to oil and gas extraction.
  • The Kochs already have achieved the majority of goals contained in "Roadmap to Repeal" - a policy document published in January 2017 by Freedom Partners, a Koch group.

"Donald Trump is turning the Koch brothers' corporate extremist fantasies into reality," said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. "Climate change denialism, enabling corporate wrongdoing, removing regulatory restraints are, literally, straight out of the Kochs' playbook, and leading Koch operatives say the pending tax cuts for corporations and the superrich are the 'most significant' effort they have ever undertaken."

"Our government should work for the people, rather than the interests of two of the wealthiest people in America," said Alan Zibel, research director of Public Citizen's Corporate Presidency Project and the report's author. "Over several decades, the Kochs have built an elaborate structure of organizations, academic centers and donors to advance an anti-government agenda that most Americans do not support."

Public Citizen's analysis includes officials who have worked at Koch-created groups such as Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners, Libre Initiative, Concerned Veterans for America and Generation Opportunity. The analysis includes lawyers and lobbyists who have represented Koch businesses or political groups. It also includes individuals who worked at think tanks, advocacy groups and academic centers with Koch funding and close Koch ties.

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Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

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