In mid-October, Donald Trump unveiled a major campaign slogan: “Drain the swamp.”
“It’s become the hottest expression,” he said at a rally in New Hampshire.“If we win on November 8th, we are going to Washington, D.C.—when we win, OK—and we are going to drain the swamp.” Trump used the term broadly to indicate to what he called the “entire corrupt Washington Establishment,” including the enormous influence of lobbyists, political rewards for campaign donors and outright corruption.
Since becoming President-elect, however, Trump’s actions haven’t exactly lived up to his oratory, especially when it came to stocking his Administration.
While his Cabinet-level picks have been less traditional—a lot more billionaires and retired military officers than usual, for one thing—it’s clear that they are much more swampy as a whole than Trump pledged.
For one, the nominees are far from inexperienced in the ways of lobbying. Eleven of his 19 Cabinet and Cabinet-level appointments announced so far have sat on the boards of corporations or organizations that have lobbied the federal government, spending a total of $497.5 million. (Most of that comes from Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, who headed ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute and was a member of the Business Roundtable when those groups spent a combined $368.4 million on lobbying.)
Nor are strangers to the world of campaign finance. Many of his appointments have given their own money to Republican candidates over the years, totaling almost $32 million. (Much of that money comes from his pick to head the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon, who has given more than $20 million, and Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, who has given more than $7.8 million.)
FINANCE HIS CAMPAIGN
His Cabinet and high-level appointments include several friends who helped finance his campaign.
Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, raised donations for Trump as his campaign’s national finance chairman, while Reince Priebus, his pick for White House chief of staff, ran the Republican National Committee, which worked closely with Trump’s campaign to get out the vote during 2016.
McMahon gave Trump and his associates more than $6 million. Secretary of Labor nominee Andy Puzder and his wife contributed a total of more than $330,000 to Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee. Secretary of Commerce nominee Wilbur Ross contributed more than $200,000, and Secretary of Education pick Betsy Devos and her family contributed a total of $1.8 million to the Republican party and the Trump campaign.
To be sure, some of his nominees haven’t given any money and count as legitimate outsiders when it comes to partisan political combat. Retired Marine generals James Mattis and John Kelly, his picks for Defense and Homeland Security, have no record of federal donations, as would be expected for two people who spent their careers in the military. And they both have been approved at this time.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, his choice for Energy; and U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, his nominee for Interior, have no records of any donations to federal candidates either, although they have done lots of fundraising for their own campaigns, as have Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions and United Nations representative nominee Nikki Haley.
- Here’s How to Drain the Swamp | RealClearPolitics
- The Wrong People to Drain the Swamp – The New York Times
- Five Bipartisan Ways to Drain the Swamp | RealClearPolitics