President Donald Trump has failed to follow through on his commitment to “drain the swamp,” accomplishing a small fraction of the lobbying ethics reforms he vowed to implement on the campaign trail, Politico reported Thursday.
Trump rolled out a lobbying ethics reform package during a campaign speech in Greenbay, Wis., in October, promising to implement five specific reforms designed to reduce the influence of federal lobbyists and their ability to exploit their time in government to drive legislative change for their clients. But he has only delivered on one of those pledges, Politico reports.
Trump made good on his pledge to prevent White House officials from lobbying for foreign governments, instituting the rule in an executive order signed days after taking office. Trump drastically narrowed his promise to bar administration officials from lobbying in any capacity for five years after leaving office, signing an executive order that only prevents them from lobbying their former agency. There is also no evidence that Trump pressed Congress to codify the ban in law, an effort he promised to make to prevent his successor from undoing the ban with a stroke of the pen.
It appears Trump has not followed through on his promise to push Congress to broaden the definition of lobbying to prevent so-called “consultants” from evading lobbying registration rules. There is also no evidence to suggest he has followed through on his vow to support legislation prohibiting lobbyists representing foreign governments from making campaign contributions. Nearly 10 months into his presidency, he has also seemingly abandoned his pledge to support legislation banning former members and their staff from lobbying for five years.
A plethora of bills have been introduced to carry out much of the ethics reform agenda Trump championed on the campaign trail but none of them have made it out of committee or received public backing from Trump.
Some lawmakers claim Trump has been quietly helping to advance the reform agenda behind the scenes and has just abandoned the topic publicly.
“They’ve encouraged not only our office but other offices to proceed with ‘drain the swamp’ legislation,” George Cecala, deputy chief of staff to GOP Rep. Bill Posey of Florida, told Politico. Posey introduced a bill to prohibit former lawmakers from lobbying for five years and their staff for two years.
Other lawmakers pushing legislation to reform lobbying ethics in Washington claim Trump has not demonstrated his commitment to the issue since taking office. Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon introduced a bill that would codify Trump’s ban on administration officials lobbying for five years after leaving government, but says Trump has not been helpful in his effort.
“There’s been a general lack of follow-through” on Trump’s campaign promises, DeFazio told Politico.
Democratic Sens. Michael Bennett of Colorado, Al Franken of Minnesota, and Cory Gardner of Colorado introduced similar legislation and claim they have received no guidance or support from the White House. It is unclear to what degree Trump is involving himself in these ongoing legislative efforts, however, it is apparent the lobbying industry has strengthened under Trump.
Special interests spent $1.7 billion on federal lobbying in the first half of 2017, the most since 2012.
“I don’t think that anything’s really changed,” Brian Wild, a longtime Republican lobbyist and a former aide to House Speaker John Boehner, told Politico. “If anything, the lobbying business is booming right now.”
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