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WASHINGTON, D.C. November 29, 2016 – As a candidate, President-elect Donald Trump railed against the “rigged political establishment” and promised to “send the special interests packing.” But a new Public Citizen report finds that out of the 75 landing team members announced by the Trump transition organization, 70 percent (53 members) have some corporate affiliation or work for corporate-backed think tanks. More than a dozen of the landing team members are former lobbyists.
The report, “Corporate Interests Infest Trump Transition at Federal Agencies,” lists and provides brief background details for all 75 landing team members. The most recent batch of landing team members was announced yesterday (Nov. 28).
Corporate-affiliated landing team members include:
- Robert Mackichan, a former general counsel for the General Services Administration (GSA) who now works as a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm Holland & Knight, specializing in representing business interests (building owners, real estate developers, etc.) in disputes with the government. As a federal lobbyist for Holland & Knight from 2002 to 2013, his corporate clients included American Express, Coach and Northrop Grumman. He is on the landing team for the GSA.
- Joel Leftwich, the staff director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry. A former advisor to Republican Senator Pat Roberts, Leftwich was a lobbyist for PepsiCo from 2013 to 2015, and in 2010 was a lobbyist for DuPont. He is on the landing team for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Tom Leppert, the former CEO of Kaplan, Inc., a corporation that provides services for preparing for standardized tests. The mayor of Dallas, Texas, from 2007 to 2011, Leppert’s political career stalled after a failed bid for U.S. Senate. During his senate campaign, he voiced support for privatizing Social Security and Medicare. Leppert is on the landing teams for the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- Mira Ricardel was a vice president for aerospace contractor Boeing. She was a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the early part of the George W. Bush administration. She is on the landing team for the U.S. Department of Defense.
- Michael Dougherty, the CEO of Secure Identity & Biometrics Association, a trade group that represents the interests of member corporations whose business is security screening technology for airports and border crossings. Previously he worked for Raytheon, a security contractor and before that, as a Homeland Security official under President George W. Bush. He is on the landing team for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Ralph Ferrara, a securities and white collar criminal defense attorney at Proskauer Rose. His prior clients include a long list of insurance companies, Royal Dutch Shell and Global Crossing. He previously served as general counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He is on the landing team for the Federal Reserve Board.
“What’s going on with the Trump administration is beyond fixing with ethics policies,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “We are witnessing the wholesale takeover of government by an extremist faction of the corporate class.”
“Federal agencies are supposed to prioritize the public interest over profit-driven impulses of Big Business,” said Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director and author of the report. “By that litmus, Trump’s choices do not inspire confidence.”
Read the report PDF.