Society

Trump Transition Staffers Lobbying Despite Ban

| by Jordan Smith

Officials who worked in Donald Trump's transition team are reportedly active again as lobbyists, despite a six-month ban on such activity.

Politico conducted an investigation which revealed that three months after Trump entered the White House, four transition staffers are registered to lobby in areas for which they were responsible during the transition.

During the election campaign, Trump repeatedly stated he would "drain the swamp" of lobbyists in Washington.

Announcing the six-month lobbying ban on transition officials last November, Sean Spicer made clear its purpose.

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"The key thing for this administration is going to be that people going out of government won't be able to use that service to enrich themselves," Spicer said, according to Politico.

The lobbying ban signed by transition officials stated that they would be barred from lobbying on "a particular matter for which I had direct and substantial responsibility."

Two officials who served in the Trump administration, who would therefore be subject to a five-year lobbying ban, stated they never signed such an agreement.

"This is more evidence of the ethical vacuum in the Trump White House," Robert Weissman, president of the nonprofit consumer rights group Public Citizen, told Politico. "These revolving-door-esque actions mock everything candidate Trump said about draining the swamp and ending corporate corruption and inside dealing in Washington, D.C."

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Since not all posts in the transition team are publicly known, the enforcement of the ban faces challenges.

"Unless we know the division of responsibility of the particular members of the transition team, I don't know how this would be enforced, other than voluntarily," Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University, added.

The Trump transition team denied that there was an issue.

"We have no reason to believe nor has the transition been presented with any evidence that any individual who signed the six-month agreement as part of his or her service with the transition is in non-compliance," executive director Ken Nahigian said.

Trump came in for criticism in April when ProPublica reported that he had eliminated a requirement that barred lobbyists from joining a government agency they had previously lobbied. The report referred to the case of Geoff Burr, who spent the past decade lobbying the Labor Department and now has a top job in that department.

"A lobbyist like Burr may de-register on Monday and enter the Trump administration on Tuesday," Craig Holman of Public Citizen told ProPublica.

Sources: Politico, ProPublica / Photo credit: Shealah Craighead/Wikimedia Commons

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