One of the many promises that Donald Trump leaned on during his improbable run to the White House was his vow to “Drain The Swamp,” a reference to what Trump said was too many political insiders who don’t represent the average American’s interests. Although he used a flawed analogy, he railed against those who represent the existing power structure by lobbying on behalf of special interests. Now, like many other campaign promise reversals, it looks as if that whole draining of the swamp thing was easier said than done.
According to The New York Times, Trump’s White House is doing everything in its power to put the kibosh on an attempt by the government’s top ethics watchdog to disclose the identities of current and former lobbyists that were recently granted waivers to work on behalf of the White House or federal agencies.
The report indicates the White House recently fired off a letter challenging a recent inquiry the Office of Government Ethics made into the matter on the basis that they believe the ethics office is overreaching their authority. The Trump administration hired plenty of lobbyists at a premium rate compared to prior administrations, and the worry is what they were paid to do, and what they are doing. Without the information being known to the public, everyone will have to take Trump’s word that he, in fact, drained that swamp and drained it real good.
The White House letter in response to the data request, sent by Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, asks that the ethics office chill-out with their noisiness until the administration can figure out if they can actually ask for the information they are requesting:
“This data call appears to raise legal questions regarding the scope of OGE’s authorities. I, therefore, request that you stay the data call until these questions are resolved.”
In response to the letter, Norman Eisen, an ethics lawyer during the Obama administration, expressed his amazement that the White House would continue to block the public from knowledge of waivers being granted to lobbyists, via The New York Times report:
“It is yet another demonstration of disrespect for the rule of law and for ethics and transparency coming from the White House,” Mr. Eisen said.