Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State
BIOGRAPHY: Texas oil man. The Wichita Falls native joined the company now known as ExxonMobil as an engineer in 1975 and worked his way up to chairman and CEO of what is now the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company by market value. Along the way, he oversaw oil and gas projects from Oklahoma and Arkansas to Yemen, Thailand and Russia, where he received the Order of Friendship in 2013.
CORPORATE TIES: ExxonMobil.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Major donor. Since 1992, Tillerson has given $428,520 to Republicans, including former President George W. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan. During the Republican primary, he backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. His wife, Renda, later gave $2,700 to Trump’s campaign and $9,800 to the Republican National Committee.
LOBBYING: Employed lobbyists. Since Tillerson became CEO in 2006, ExxonMobil has spent nearly $173 million lobbying the federal government, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Tillerson also served as chairman of the American Petroleum Institute, which spent more than $73.4 million lobbying the federal government during his tenure. He was also a member of the Business Roundtable, which spent more than $122.1 million on lobbyists while he was on the board. Between those three organizations alone, Tillerson helped run companies that spent more than $368.4 million on lobbying the federal government.
Jeff Sessions, Attorney General
BIOGRAPHY: Longtime Alabama Senator. A U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Sessions was tapped for a federal district judgeship by President Reagan in 1986 but his nomination ran aground over allegations of racially provocative comments. He was elected the state’s attorney general in 1994 and U.S. Senator in 1996. In February, he became the first sitting Senator to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign.
CORPORATE TIES: No known corporate posts.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Veteran fundraiser. Since 1995, Sessions’ campaign committee and a leadership PAC have raised $18.6 million in donations, mostly from Southern donors. He is not much of a campaign donor, however, having given just $1,250 of his own money over the years, though his leadership PAC gave nearly $1 million of other people’s money to Republican Senate candidates from 2004 to 2014. He did not donate in support of Trump’s campaign.
LOBBYING: Connected to lobbyists. Many of Sessions’ former colleagues in the Senate have moved on to lobbying gigs. Former Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, now a major lobbyist, mentioned his longstanding friendship with the Alabama Senator when talking with the New York Times in November about lobbying the Trump Administration.
Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Treasury
BIOGRAPHY: Wall Street investor. Mnuchin followed in his father’s footsteps, joining investment bank Goldman Sachs at the age of 22 and working there 17 years. He later briefly worked for financier George Soros, started his own hedge fund and worked as a Hollywood producer on such movies as “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad.” He served as national campaign finance chairman for Trump..
CORPORATE TIES: Goldman Sachs, CIT Group (which bought OneWest, a subprime mortgage lender that later received $900 million in federal bailout money) and Sears Holding Corp.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Major donor. Mnuchin gave at least $425,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint Trump-RNC Fundraising Committee, and also served as the national finance chair for the Trump campaign.
LOBBYING: Employed lobbyists. In 2009 and 2010, when he was part of management of OneWest Bank, the bank reported spending $90,000 lobbying the federal government. During 2015 and 2016, when he was a director at CIT Group, the regional bank reported spending nearly $4.4 million on federal lobbying. (He stepped down in December after being named as Trump’s pick for Treasury.) Mnuchin sat on the board of Sears Holding Corp from 2005 to 2016, years in which the company spent $7.4 million lobbying the federal government.
James Mattis, Secretary of Defense
APPROVED ON 1/20
BIOGRAPHY: Retired Marine general. A native of Pullman, Wash., Mattis joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1969, working his way up to four-star general over a 41-year career. Nicknamed “the Warrior Monk” and “Mad Dog,” he led troops in Kuwait during the first Persian Gulf War, in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003. He retired in 2013 after serving as head of U.S. Central Command, overseeing U.S. forces in the Middle East.
CORPORATE TIES: General Dynamics, Theranos. In 2013, Mattis was elected to the board of directors of General Dynamics, a defense contractor, receiving equity awards worth more than $112,000 in value in 2014 and $140,000 in 2015. In 2013, he also joined the board of Theranos, a blood-testing startup that is under civil and criminal investigation. The Wall Street Journal reported that as head of the U.S. Central Command, he pressed for Theranos equipment to be used.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: No donations to federal candidates.
LOBBYING: Employed lobbyists. Since he joined General Dynamics in 2013, the company has spent $39.9 million lobbying the federal government. In 2015 and 2016, when he was on its board, Theranos spent $600,000 on federal lobbying.