BY HARPER NEIDIG AND MEGAN R. WILSON – 11/16/16 the HILL
Vice President-elect Mike Pence is reportedly kicking all lobbyists off the transition team, An unidentified source within the transition team told the Journal that it was one of Pence’s first moves since taking over the effort from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was ousted last week.
Pence officially took control of the transition efforts on Tuesday, according to a document sent to the White House.
Since Christie’s removal, many of his appointees on the team have also been dismissed, and the transition effort has been taken over by campaign loyalists.
Trump had been under fire for having a transition team filled with lobbyists and other insiders, given his campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.” There had been roughly a dozen registered lobbyists working in and around the transition team, reports have said.
Those lobbyists included Rob Collins of S-3 Group, Mike Catanzaro at CGCN Group, Martin Whitmer of Whitmer & Worrall, J. Steven Hart at Williams & Jensen and tobacco company Altria’s Cindy Hayden, among others.
“Based on public reports, your transition team and your potential cabinet include over twenty Wall Street elites, industry insiders, and lobbyists making decisions that could have huge implications for their clients or employers,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote in a letter to Trump on Tuesday.
Trump said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday that selecting lobbyists was the only option he had.
In addition to the removal of lobbyists, former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), once seen as a candidate to lead the CIA, had also left the Trump transition team. Rogers had been told that those brought on by Christie were being let go, the Journal reported.
The same report said former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) had been brought in as one replacement for Rogers.
Hoekstra is a registered lobbyist at Williams & Jensen, according to lobbying disclosure records, with clients including Visa, insurance company Anthem, Eli Lilly & Company, General Electric, the Security Traders Association, PhRMA, Dell and the American Business Group of Abu Dhabi, among others.
Trump has pledged to take on lobbyists in the White House and has already released a series of ethics proposals that would crack down on the industry.
One of his ideas would be to increase the “cooling off” period for lobbying to five years for former federal and congressional officials. He has also proposed banning former White House officials from ever lobbying for a foreign government.
It remains to be seen whether Trump will retain President Obama’s prohibitions on lobbyists serving in the administration. He could choose to scrap the rules or significantly strengthen them once in office