At The New York Times,
Eric Lipton reports that Trump
's transition time is full of lobbyists and other special-interest figures.
Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist whose clients include Devon Energy and Encana Oil and Gas, holds the “energy independence” portfolio.
Michael Torrey, a lobbyist who runs a firm that has earned millions of dollars helping food industry players such as the American Beverage Association and the dairy giant Dean Foods, is helping set up the new team at the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Trump was swept to power in large part by white working-class voters who responded to his vow to restore the voices of forgotten people, ones drowned out by big business and Wall Street. But in his transition to power, some of the most prominent voices will be those of advisers who come from the same industries for which they are being asked to help set the regulatory groundwork.
The president-elect’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, declined a request for comment, as did nearly a dozen corporate executives, consultants and lobbyists serving on his transition team, which was outlined in a list distributed widely in Washington on Thursday.
A number of the people on that list are well-established experts with no clear interest in helping private-sector clients. But to critics of Mr. Trump — both Democrats and Republicans — the inclusion of advisers with industry ties is a first sign that he may not follow through on all of his promises.
“This whole idea that he was an outsider and going to destroy the political establishment and drain the swamp were the lines of a con man, and guess what — he is being exposed as just that,” said Peter Wehner, who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush before becoming a speechwriter for George W. Bush. “He is failing the first test, and he should be held accountable for it.”
Transition teams help new presidents pick the new cabinet, as well as up to 4,000 political appointees who will take over top posts in agencies across the government. President Obama, after he was first elected, instituted rules that prohibited individuals who had served as registered lobbyists in the prior year from serving as transition advisers in the areas in which they represented private clients. They were also prohibited, after the administration took power, from lobbying in the parts of the government they helped set up.
“They wanted to make sure that people were not putting their thumb on the scale, or even the perception of that,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, the director of a nonprofit group called the White House Transition Project, which has studied two decades of presidential transitions.