Donald Trump's transition team isn't following its own ethical guidelines

The Trump transition team has another roadblock when it comes to staffing the government

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 16, 2016 8:37PM (EST)

Donald Trump at a February campaign event (AP)
Donald Trump at a February campaign event (AP)

Donald Trump may have vowed to "drain the swamp," but so far his troubled transition team hasn't even been able to follow his own ethical standards.

According to a Politico report Wednesday, at least eight members of Trump's transition team have done work that contradicts the campaign's "Code of Ethical Conduct," which among other things required each individual on the potential transition team to “disqualify myself from involvement in any particular transition matter if I have engaged in regulated lobbying activities with respect to such matter, as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, within the previous 12 months.”

Politico specifically named Williams & Jensen chairman Steve Hart, who lobbied for Anthem, Brinks and Smithfield Foods but is now working to staff the Labor Department; Michael McKenna, who is a lobbyist at MWR Strategies for the power provider Southern Company and French utility Engie and is now in charge of the transition for the Energy Department; David Bernhardt, who lobbied for Westlands Water District and is now heading the Department of Interior transition; Jim Carter, who is leading the tax reform transition even though he's lobbied on taxation issues up through September; Michael Catanzaro and Mike Ference, who are leading the energy independence transition despite having both lobbied on behalf of petroleum companies; Martin Whitmer, who is leading the transportation and infrastructure transition despite being a lobbyist for railroads, pavement, and utilities associations; and Michael Torrey, who is leading the Department of Agriculture transition despite also lobbying as recently as September on behalf of groups ranging from the American Beverage Association to Little Caesars and Dean Foods.

Trump's flip-flopping here is especially notable given the emphasis he placed on "draining the swamp" of Washington corruption in the final month of his campaign.

"It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.," Trump's campaign website proclaims. "That is why I am proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Ethics Jared Kushner Trump Ethics