Wall Street billionaires, corporate lobbyists and far right conservatives flooded the White House almost immediately after Donald Trump’s presidential victory, newly released White House visitor logs reveal.
The White House was forced to release the list of visitors to five federal offices after the Washington transparency group Property of the People sued under the Freedom of Information Act. The searchable logs, published Tuesday by ProPublica, provide a glimpse into the creation of the president’s political agenda, spearheaded almost entirely by business interests, with little input from consumer advocacy or humanitarian groups.
Officials at the Office of Management and Budget, for example, met periodically with CEOs from the health care industry and big businesses, a handful of lobbyists representing Koch Industries and several billionaires intent on shaping White House policy, including casino magnate Steve Wynn—a close friend of the president—and corporate leader Charles Schwab.
Logs were also released for the U.S. Trade Representative, National Drug and Control Policy, Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
It's certainly not the first time that the Office of Management and Budget has heard from private business leaders and lobbyists, but the sheer variety of corporate interests and lack of consumer representation during policy conversations marks a clear departure from previous White House norms. Former President Barack Obama’s OMB typically met with consumer rights groups and philanthropic representatives under its director, Peter Orszag.
The logs also reveal how much money can be spent by lobbying groups just to get their foot in the door inside the West Wing. Budget chief Mick Mulvaney’s former congressional Chief of Staff Al Simpson was hired by the lobbying firm Mercury in February, soon after Trump appointed Mulvaney to run the management and budget office. Since then, Mulvaney and Simpson met at least seven times and had one phone call, as the lobbyist brought his clients to meet his old boss. Those clients, including powerhouse corporations like Cemex and pharma firms like AmerisourceBergen, paid Simpson’s lobbying firm $360,000 throughout 2017, ProPublica reported.
Meetings at the Office of Budget and Management have become far less inclusive under Mulvaney, who recently told Politico, "I don’t think anyone in this administration is more of a right-wing conservative than I am.” The director has met frequently with representatives from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy think tank that has stirred controversy over its stances on issues including immigration and health care.
The purposes behind several White House meetings remain shrouded in mystery. For example, Mulvaney met with Jeff Bell, a member of the controversial religious group Opus Dei, which has been said to use cult-like recruitment practices, on March 28.
Meanwhile, out of the 8,807 meetings and people listed in the logs, 2,169 names and subject matter are redacted—nearly 25 percent of the data dump. Property of the People is reportedly negotiating to get some of the identities unmasked.
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