Lobbyists are continuing to advise Donald Trump’s transition planning, despite the president-elect’s pledge to rid the process of their involvement.
A Trump spokesman said earlier this week that Vice President-elect Mike Pence and transition executive director Rick Dearborn were “making good on President-elect Trump’s promise that we’re not going to have any lobbyists involved with the transition efforts.”
But some lobbyists remain involved in the transition operation and others are advising as informal consultants, two people with knowledge of transition planning said.
David Bernhardt, who is leading the transition’s Interior Department issues, filed a termination report with the Senate on Friday that ends his representation of a lobbying client, Westlands Water District. The filing indicates he is staying on the transition, as Westlands was his only lobbying client in the most recent quarter of the year, lobbying records show. Bernhardt is a partner at the law-and-lobby firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.
Earlier this week, a lobbyist who is a close aide to Pence, Josh Pitcock, filed paperwork terminating his status as a federal lobbyist.
The filings — known as “deregistering” — allows them to comply with the transition’s new lobbyist ban, which requires transition members to sign an agreement certifying they are not a registered lobbyist. The new lobbyist rule was announced Wednesday following criticism that Trump was welcoming lobbyists onto the transition despite his campaign pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington. The abrupt change disrupted the already-hectic transition planning.
At least two lobbyists have since resigned, including Mike McKenna and Mike Catanzaro, who had both been working on the transition to help form energy policy.
“Although I have reluctantly decided that I cannot continue on the transition in an official capacity, I am excited about continuing to work to make America great again,” McKenna said in a statement.
A person familiar with Catanzaro’s decision said he was honored to serve on the transition team but did not intend to join the administration.