Watchdog group questions Trump commitment to drain the swamp

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a post-election rally, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a post-election rally, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. AP

Donald Trump pledged to drain the nation’s capital of special interests and influence peddlers, but a government watchdog group says the “landing teams” that are helping plan his transition to governing are full of corporate interests.

Of the 75 landing team members announced by the president-elect’s transition team, 70 percent – or 53 – have some corporate affiliation, according to an analysis by Public Citizen. It said several of the team members are chief executive officers of companies, and others served as corporate lobbyists. The groups also counted those working for various think tanks, including Myron Ebell, the head of environmental and energy policy at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, which once received contributions from ExxonMobil.

The review found that despite Trump’s pledge to purge his transition team of lobbyists, 18 percent – or 14 – of the landing team members are former lobbyists, some as recently as last year. The survey also said some of the landing team members lobbied for corporate interests affected by the agencies where they are working as recently as last year.

“What’s going on with the Trump administration is beyond fixing with ethics policies,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “We are witnessing the wholesale takeover of government by an extremist faction of the corporate class.”

Aside from meeting with elected officials, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the president-elect’s appointments at Trump Tower on Tuesday included meeting with Marion Blakey, president and chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce North America and Gary Cohn, chief operating officer of Goldman-Sachs.

Lesley Clark: 202-383-6054, @lesleyclark