Not Quite #DrainTheSwamp: A Running List Of Lobbyists On Trump’s Transition Team

Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump condemned special interests and lobbyists, promising to end “the politics of profit.”

Not Quite #DrainTheSwamp: A Running List Of Lobbyists On Trump’s Transition Team
[Photo: Matthew Henry via Unsplash]

Updated December 1 with departures of Catanzara, Torrey, and McKenna


Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump has portrayed himself as the ultimate outsider, not beholden to special interests and lobbyists, and uniquely qualified to stop corruption and influence-peddling in the halls of power in Washington, D.C. Along with building “the wall” and “Crooked Hillary,” condemning special interests and the #DrainTheSwamp meme was a recurring catchphrase in his speeches.

Last October, he railed against “the political class that is owned outright by special interests and lobbyists.” He continued: “They’ve betrayed our workers, they’ve betrayed our borders and, most of all, they’ve betrayed our freedoms. We will save our sovereign rights as a nation. We will end the politics of profit; we will end the rule of special interests.”

What a difference a few days make. Just three days after his victory on Tuesday night, Trump has surrounded himself with advisers who are lobbyists and a transition team guided by those who represent the very “special interests” he decried, including lobbyists for Google, oil companies, mining giants, and other corporations and organizations, according to excellent reporting in Politico and the New York Times, both of which obtained an organizational chart of the transition team (see below).

Advocates for progressive causes and safety and health regulations were not surprised at Trump’s apparent hypocrisy on lobbyists. “I don’t think it’s any surprise that his ‘drain the swamp’ sloganeering turned out to be just that,” wrote Matthew Shudtz, the executive director of the Center for Progressive Reform, in an email to Fast Company. “To me, the interesting question is whether Mr. Trump will develop any sort of unifying vision for his team. Or are we entering an era of deregulatory free-for-all?”

And Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, emailed: “It’s hard to fight the ‘rigged’ system when you fill your administration with the very individuals complicit in the rigging. President-elect Trump promised millions of angry Americans that Washington would be different under his leadership. He decried the influence of big banks, Wall Street fat cats, and powerful special interests. Now it appears he’s offering them room-and-board in the White House. If these leaked reports are to be believed, the swamp’s drain is obviously clogged.”


On Wednesday, November 15, Trump aides announced that his transition team would not include lobbyists and that officials and staffers in his administration would be barred from lobbying for five years after leaving government service.

Then on November 16, the Trump team announced that lobbyists working for the incoming administration would have to terminate their lobbyist registrations and agree to abstain from lobbying for five years after leaving the administration. That prompted the immediate departures of three members of the team. These included CGCN’s Michael Catanzaro and MWR Strategies’ Michael McKenna, both of whom were working on energy issues; and Michael Torrey, who was helping to transition the Department of Agriculture, reports Politico.

Here’s an alphabetical running list of all the lobbyists currently working for the team, their roles, and their lobbying history. And it will be updated (those who have since left the transition team due to new restrictions have their listings struck through).

Albright, Bud
Agencies task force
Lobbyist with Ogilvy Government Relations
Clients: Calpine Corporation, Delta Star, Deltic Timber, National Association of Water Companies

Bagger, Rich
Transition team executive director
Lobbyist for Celgene Corporation

Benczkowski, Brian
Justice Department transition team
Former lobbyist with Kirkland and Ellis
Clients: Harbinger Capital Partners


Bernhardt, David
Interior Department transition team
Lobbyist with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
Clients: Westlands Water District (in California)
Former clients: Freeport LNG, Rosemont Copper

Bradfield, Mary Ann
Small Business Administration transition team
Former lobbyist for the National Rifle Association

Carter, Jim
Tax reform
Lobbyist for Emerson manufacturing company

Carter, Thomas
Defense Department transition team
Formerly lobbied for Elbit Systems

Catanzaro, Mike
Energy independence
Lobbyist with CGCN Group
Clients: Koch Industries, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Hess, Encana, Noble Energy, Devon Energy

Chatfield, William Austin
Veterans Administration reform
Owned a lobbying firm, Kindness & Chatfield
Clients: Software firms


Ciccone, Christine
Transition team
Lobbyist for Centrus Energy and formerly lobbied for Honeywell

Claver-Carone, Mauricio
Treasury Department transition team
Lobbyist on U.S.-Cuba relations (until Friday) at Cuba Democracy Advocates

Collins, Rob
Lobbyist with S-3 Group
Clients: Google, JPMorgan, United LaunchAlliance (Lockheed Martin + Boeing joint venture), Council for Investor Rights and Corporate Accountability

Domenech, Doug
Energy Department transition team
Former lobbyist for Artemis Strategies
Clients: SAP America, Little Planet Learning, Qtero, HJ Heinz

Eisenach, Jeffrey
FCC transition team
Consultant to telecom industry who’s been paid by Verizon and AT&T

Ference, Mike
Energy independence
Lobbyist with S-3 Group
Clients: Halliburton, Koch Industries, Marathon Oil


Ferguson, Mike
Transition team
Lobbyist with Ferguson Strategies LLC
Clients: Lilly, Roche, Merck, Genentech, Verizon

Hayden, Cindy
Homeland Security transition team
Lobbies for Altria, the tobacco giant

Hart, J. Steven
Labor Department transition team
Lobbyist with William & Jensen
Clients: Anthem, Cheniere Energy, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Visa,, PhRMA, United Airlines, and the American Council of Life Insurers.

Hohlt, Rick
Transition team
Lobbyist with the Hohlt Group
Clients: Sallie Mae, Bristol Myers, Chevron, the Federalist Group, JPMorgan Chase, Nuclear Energy Institute

Jamison, Mark
FCC transition team
Formerly lobbied for Sprint

Korbey, Michael
Social Security Administration transition team
Formerly lobbied for the United Seniors Association, a group that spent millions to support former President George W. Bush’s privatization plan


Lighthizer, Robert
U.S. Trade Representative transition team
Formerly lobbied for U.S. Steel

Lundberg, Rolf
Trade reform
Lobbies for Choice Hotels and the International Franchise Association

Machida, Ado
Policy team
Lobbies for defense giant BAE System, formerly lobbied for Hitachi America, UPS

McKenna, Michael
Energy Department transition team
Lobbyist with MWR Strategies
Clients: Engie, Southern Company, Dow Chemical

Palatucci, William
Transition team general counsel
Lobbyist with Dughi, Hewit and Palatucci
Clients: Aetna and Verizon

Pitcock, Josh
Transition team
Lobbyist for the state of Indiana


Pyle, Tom
Energy Department transition team
Formerly lobbied for Koch Industries

Torrey, Michael
Agriculture Department transition team
Lobbies for the American Beverage Association, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau

Whitmer, Martin
Transportation and infrastructure
Lobbyist with Whitmer & Worrall
Clients: American Association of Railroads, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, Utilities Technology Council

If you have information on additional members of the transition team, please contact me at