President Trump, who campaigned on the promise of “drain the swamp,” has hired 281 lobbyists to his administration by the halfway point of his first term, more former lobbyists to his cabinet than former President Barack Obama or former President George W. Bush did in their eight years in the White House.
That amount is four times more than President Obama hired six years into office.
One lobbyist was hired for every 14 political appointments made, according to a ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations analysis released Tuesday.
Even government watchdogs who’ve long monitored the revolving door say that its current scale is a major shift from previous administrations. It’s a “staggering figure,” according to Virginia Canter, ethics chief counsel for the D.C.-based legal nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It suggests that lobbyists see themselves as more effective in furthering their clients’ special interests from inside the government rather than from outside.”
We tracked the lobbyists as part of an update to Trump Town, our database of political appointees. We’ve added the names of 639 new staffers with the administration and the financial disclosures of 351 political appointees who have filled different positions over the past year, and we tracked the careers of 338 who departed government during the same period.
The full extent of the lobbying industry’s influence is hard to measure because federal agencies decline to share details of recusals granted to officials who disclose potential conflicts with their new government roles.