ProPublica went to the work of compiling a full list of Trump appointees and their industry or lobbying ties. Think of it as a cheat sheet letting you know who’s the most likely to end up in prison after this.
Here’s what we found: At least 187 Trump political appointees have been federal lobbyists, and despite President Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp,” many are now overseeing the industries they once lobbied on behalf of. We’ve also discovered ethics waivers that allow Trump staffers to work on subjects in which they have financial conflicts of interest.
The term “ethics waiver” is an odd term, by the way. Getting a “waiver” from “ethics” is something only a government or a religion could think up. It also does nothing to waive the various federal laws that make self-serving in government office a crime, meaning it’s the people who need “ethics waivers” who are most likely to come up in future corruption investigations.
We also found — for the first time — dozens of special-government employees, or SGEs, who work as paid consultants or experts for federal agencies while keeping their day jobs in the private sector. This rare government gig allows them to legally work for both industry and the Trump administration at the same time.
It also, coincidentally, gives people who could never slide by even a Republican-led vetting process a voice in top government policies.
Of particular note is the deep influence of the Koch network.
It’s not just tax cuts that the Koch brothers and their partners have been getting from this new administration. Due to the fortuitous placement of allies, they have also been getting, well, whatever they want:
Just before Trump took office last January, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, one of the main conservative advocacy groups funded by the Koch Brothers, unveiled a deregulatory wish list. The action plan highlighted 19 Obama-era policies affecting the environment, labor and technology that Freedom Partners wanted gone. “This strategy can help to unravel eight years of regulatory overreach starting immediately,” the organization’s vice president, Andy Koenig, wrote in an accompanying press release.
A few weeks later, Koenig joined the White House as a policy assistant, putting him in a position to implement his former employer’s agenda. Sure enough, just over a year later, the administration has acted on 16 of the 19 suggestions that Freedom Partners listed.
So the ProPublica effort, titled Trump Town, is likely to be a very useful resource indeed during the next few years. At the very least, it will provide savvy gamblers with all the data they need to predict which Trump appointees are most likely to be led out of federal buildings in handcuffs before this is all over.