Candidate Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” was apparently made with a slew of caveats, which were exposed late Wednesday when the White House posted details of ethics waivers granted to at least 16 senior staff members.
Among the notice (pdf), which detailed 14 different waived ethics rules, are provisions granting lobbyists from some of the most contentious industries the freedom to influence policy making in those very same arenas.
Michael Catanzaro, a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry, was granted approval to work on “energy and environmental policy issues” including the Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the United States rule, and other environmental regulations, Politico‘s Josh Gerstein reported.
Tax policy adviser Shahira Knight, who previously served as an executive at Fidelity Investments, was given approval to deal with “tax, retirement, and financial services issues,” despite the fact that “she’d previously lobbied on those topics,” as Gerstein noted.
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Another waiver was granted to Andrew Olmem, who now serves as a special assistant to the president for financial policy after years of lobbying the government on behalf of a number of financial and insurance firms. His waiver allows for him to work on a variety of finance-related issues.
“The ethics waivers the White House finally released reveal what we already suspected: that this administration is chock full of senior officials working on issues on which they lobbied, meeting with companies in which they have a financial interest, or working closely with former employers,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
“Looks like the end of the drain the swamp illusion,” the pro-transparency group quipped on Twitter following the late-night data release.
While some waivers were granted to specific senior staff members, such as senior spokesperson Kellyanne Conway and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, others are more broad.
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