As a candidate, President-Elect Donald Trump railed against the “rigged political establishment” and promised to “send the special interests packing.” The federal agency landing teams announced by the President-Elect’s Transition Team, however, suggest the entrenched establishment of corporate interests, Republican insiders and former lobbyists will have significant influence over the incoming administration.
Out of the 75 landing team members announced by the Trump Transition organization, 70 percent (53 members) have some corporate affiliation. Some are CEOs (Paul Atkins, Willie Gaynor, Tom Leppert, Ray Washburne), some served corporations as lobbying or legal clients (Joel Leftwich, Doug Domenech, Robert Mackichan, Ronald Tenpas), some worked at the Heritage Foundation or other corporate-backed think tanks (Justin Johnson, Jim Carafano, Thomas Pyle, Myron Ebell). See the Appendix below for the full list of landing team members for which corporate affiliation was identified.
A much-publicized shakeup purged the Trump administration’s transition team of individuals currently working as lobbyists. Nevertheless, federal lobbying disclosures reveal 14 (18 percent) of the landing team members are former lobbyists. Some of the landing team members lobbied for corporate interests affected by the agencies where they are working as recently as last year. See the Appendix below for the full list of landing team members for which lobbying records were identified.
The purpose of the landing teams is to help federal agencies (Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, etc.) undergo a smooth transition from working under the outgoing Obama administration to the incoming Trump administration. The landing team personnel, who are chosen by the incoming administration, may thus provide some insight into what the new administration’s policy priorities will be for the federal agencies.
The following short biographies are of landing team members, arranged alphabetically by the federal agency for which they have been selected to assist. Lobbying records accessed via the U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act database.
COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION (CFTC)
Sharon Brown-Hruska served as acting chairman of the CFTC under the administration of President George W. Bush. Currently she is the director of National Economic Research Associates’ Securities and Finance Practice and the White Collar, Investigations and Enforcement Practice. She also is a member of the CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee and a professor at Tulane University. She is also a member of the landing team for the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (CFPB)
Paul Atkins is in charge of financial regulation for the Trump transition. He is the CEO of Patomak Global Partners, a consulting firm that advises financial services companies on compliance issues. Atkins formerly served as a Republican commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he was viewed as being largely opposed to regulation. He is also a member of the landing teams for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
CJ Jordan is president and CEO of Jordan Management Group, a government relations and public affairs firm and is or was recently president of the National Black Republican Leadership Council. She has worked for the Republican National Committee and served on the Finance Leadership Team for the 2004 reelection campaign of President George W. Bush.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA)
Joel Leftwich is 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.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
David Bohigian is managing director at Pluribus Ventures, where he works with investment management firms. He was previously at the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. He also formerly served as an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, a position for which he was nominated by President George W. Bush, focusing on the elimination of barriers to trade and investment.
William “Willie” Gaynor is the founder and former president and CEO of Rock Creek Advisors LLC, a consulting firm that advises CEOs, lawmakers and international leaders on policy related to, global trade, finance and economic policy. From 2005 to 2010, he was a lobbyist for the Ashcroft Group (now TAG Holdings), the lobbying firm founded by John Ashcroft, U.S. Attorney General under President George W. Bush, and served clients including AT&T and the National Association of Broadcasters. He worked for the Bush administration.
Tom Leppert is 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 also is a member of the landing team for the Social Security Administration.
Joan Maginnis is a retired attorney who formerly worked as assistant general counsel at the Department of Commerce.
George Sifakis is the founder and CEO of Ideagen, a consulting firm with a focus on facilitating collaborations between corporations, nonprofits and government. He previously worked in both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. He worked as a lobbyist between 2004 and 2010, mostly for clients in the health technology, education and telecommunications sectors.
Ray Washburne is in charge of Department of Commerce for the transition team. He was a leader of Trump’s fundraising effort during the campaign. He served as the finance team leader for the presidential campaign of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and before that as national finance chair of the Republican National Committee. He is the CEO of Charter Holdings, a real estate company.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
James Manning was a Department of Education official under the administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Thomas Carter is vice president for government relations at Elbit Systems of America, a defense contractor, and previously was the president of Commonwealth Consulting Corporation. He is a former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense, Legislative Affairs, and the former senior counselor to the Coalition Provisional Authority for Legislative Affairs, Baghdad, Iraq.
Michael Duffey is executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. He previously held a range of jobs at the Department of Defense, focusing most recently on systems engineering.
Greg Gardner is the chief architect for Government and Defense Solutions at NetApp, an IT and data storage company, and is a former vice president at Oracle for government solutions. He served as deputy chief information officer (DCIO) for the Intelligence Community and served 30 years in the Army.
William Hartzog is a board member for and former president and CEO of Burdeshaw Associates, a defense consulting firm. He is a retired U.S. Army General, and serves on the Defense Science Board. In 2005, he lobbied on behalf of FNSS, a Turkish manufacturer of military vehicles.
Justin Johnson is senior policy analyst for defense budgeting policy at the corporate-backed Heritage Foundation. Prior to joining The Heritage Foundation, Johnson spent over a decade working on defense and foreign policy issues on Capitol Hill. His last position on Capitol Hill was as deputy chief of staff and military legislative assistant for Rep. Doug Lamborn, who is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general, is listed as spearheading Defense for the administration’s agency transition team. Kellogg was chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. He has worked for several defense contractors and currently is vice president for Cubic Corporation, a defense contractor.
Earl Matthews is an attorney who has held various positions with the U.S. Army and Defense Intelligence Agency.
Bert Mizusawa is a major general in the United States Army Reserve. As major general in the Army, he served as deputy director for strategic initiatives for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the 1990s, he served for three years as professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.
Sergio de la Pena works with de la Pena Consulting after a two-year stint at L-3 MPRI, a global provider of private military contractor services. He worked for more than 10 years previous with various positions in the U.S. military.
Mira Ricardel is or recently was a consultant for Federal Budget IQ, which analyzes the federal budget for public sector clients, and 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.
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Thomas Pyle is president of the Institute for Energy Research, a group that was founded by Charles Koch and is funded through Koch-backed nonprofits. Previously, he worked as a registered lobbyist for Koch Industries and as the Koch Industries Director of Federal Affairs from 2001 through 2005.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (HHS)
Andrew Bremberg is overseeing Health and Human Services on the transition team. Bremberg was an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on nominations, then joined the 2016 presidential campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. In 2012, he served on Mitt Romney’s transition team, where he worked on plans to repeal Obamacare. His employer is Right Policy, LLC. He served in various capacities for HHS in the administration of President George W. Bush.
Paula Stannard is working on health care reform. She is a lawyer at Alston & Bird, where she advises health care providers, health insurance companies and health plans. She is a former deputy general counsel and acting general counsel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the George W. Bush administration.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Jim Carafano served for 25 years in the U.S. Army and is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the corporate-backed Heritage Foundation.
Michael Dougherty is 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.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Doug Domenech is director of the Fueling Freedom Project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He previously worked as Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources, and served in the U.S. Department of the Interior. He also worked for 12 years for the Forest Resources Association, a national trade association representing the forest products industry. He was a federal lobbyist for the Home School Legal Defense Association (1999–2002) and Artemis Strategies (2009–2010), the latter on behalf of clients including the KraftHeinz and the Manufacturers Association of Israel.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Zina Bash lists her most recent listed employer is Doctors’ Hospital at Renaissance, where her father-in-law is or was chief executive. She has been a U.S. Supreme Court clerk, counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and an associate attorney at Gibson Dunn.
James Burnham is an associate at Jones Day, where he represents companies and individuals in criminal and civil litigation against the federal government, state governments, and other governmental entities. He represented Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in his U.S. Supreme Court case challenging a corruption conviction, and the Noel Canning company in a separation of powers case at the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging action by the National Labor Relations Board.
Brian Benczkowski is a partner with Kirkland & Ellis. His practice focuses on litigation and white collar criminal defense. He served previously as the chief of staff for the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and in other positions at the U.S. Department of Justice.
William “Bill” Cleveland is a former vice mayor of Alexandria, Virginia. A Vietnam veteran and former member of the U.S. Capitol police force, he ran for mayor and received an endorsement from The Washington Times, which noted “he stands out as the obvious law-and-order candidate” with “impressive” credentials as a “fiscal conservative.”
David Higbee is a partner with Hunton & Williams, representing corporate clients undergoing criminal and civil investigations by the Justice Department and state attorneys general. He worked for the administration of George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, including in the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department.
Greg Katsas is a partner at Jones Day, where he handles complex litigation for corporations in areas including administrative law, antitrust, constitutional law, employment discrimination, international law and arbitration, and products liability. He has done extensive work for tobacco companies and argued the first U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Between 2001 and 2009, he served in many senior positions in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Jessie Liu is a litigator in Morrison & Foerster’s Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia offices who focuses on advising and defending companies and individuals facing government investigations or enforcement actions, within the United States or around the world. She previously worked an assistant United States attorney for the District of Columbia and at the Department of Justice.
J. Patrick Rowan is a partner at McGuireWoods, where his practice focuses on corporate criminal and civil enforcement proceedings and internal investigations. He previously worked for 18 years in the Department of Justice.
Ronald Tenpas is a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where he represents clients in criminal investigations related to alleged environmental violations, import and customs matters. He previously served as Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Loren Smith works with the political intelligence firm Capital Alpha Partners. He formerly was special assistant for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Christopher Burnham is the chairman and CEO of Cambridge Global Capital, a merchant bank he co-founded in 2013. From 2006 to 2013, Burnham was vice chairman and managing director of Deutsche Asset Management (DeAM) and global co-head of Deutsche Bank’s private equity group. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, Burnham served as under-secretary-general of the United Nations for management, and held various positions in the U.S. State Department.
Charles Glazer is a financial advisor with Fieldpoint Private Securities, served previously as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, and was formerly CEO of C.L Glazer, a brokerage and investment banking firm.
Alexander Gray was a Trump campaign advisor and previously worked for Republican Congressman Randy Forbes.
Steven Groves is a research fellow at the corporate-backed Heritage Foundation and former senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Erin Walsh served as executive director and head of Goldman Sachs’ Office of Corporate Engagement for Asia Pacific and was previously senior advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
Jackie Wolcott is a commissioner at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, where she was previously executive director. She has held a variety of official foreign policy positions, including serving as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Mauricio Claver-Carone is the executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates and an advocate for U.S. policies against the Cuban government.
Curtis Dubay is a research fellow at the corporate-backed Heritage Foundation. Before joining Heritage in November 2008, Dubay was a senior associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he structured international transactions as part of the accounting firm’s Transfer Pricing Group.
Eileen O’Connor is a tax lawyer with the Law Office of Eileen J. O’Connor. Previously serving as head of the federal tax controversy and tax policy practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, she represented individual, corporate, and non-profit clients in IRS audits, appeals, and criminal investigations, in offshore voluntary disclosures, and, in the case of Swiss banks, in connection with the DOJ Tax Division’s program to obtain non-prosecution agreements. Prior to that, she was assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
Bill Walton, along with David Malpass, is at the top of the agency transition chart on economic issues. He is chairman Rappahannock Ventures LLC, a private equity firm. He is also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, which promotes the theory of intelligent design over evolution. At the Discovery Institute, Walton is a senior fellow of the Center on Wealth, Poverty and, Morality, which seeks to “provide a multifaceted defense of the practical and moral necessity of free markets.”
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Nancy Butler is the retired vice president for government/federal relations of AECOM, a Fortune 500 engineering company. Prior to her 22 years at AECOM, she served as director of communications for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (VA)
Michael Meese served 32 years in the Army, including deployments as chief of staff to General David Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the son of Edwin Meese, who is also on the transition team.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)
Myron Ebell is the head of environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a corporate-backed libertarian advocacy group. He is one of the nation’s most prominent critics of the scientific consensus that the earth is warming due to the manmade causes.
Bradley Bondi is a partner in Cahill’s litigation practice group and is a leader of its securities enforcement and regulatory practices. He defends companies and individuals in enforcement actions initiated by federal and state agencies and departments, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC)
Jeffrey Eisenach is managing director and co-chair of the Communications, Media and Internet Practice for National Economic Research Associates. Eisenach opposes proposed FCC rules calling for “net neutrality,” which would require Internet service providers to permit content to travel over the Internet equality regardless of the source of the content. The New York Times reported that Eisenach has served as a consultant for Verizon and other telecommunications companies. Eisenach posted to his Twitter account that is he not currently working for Verizon and has no business before FCC at present. He is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Mark Jamison formerly worked on Sprint’s lobbying team and now heads the utility-funded University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center. Fortune calls him a “staunch opponent” of net neutrality, as well as cable set-top box regulation.
FARM CREDIT ADMINISTRATION
Sharon Brown-Hruska served as acting chairman of the CFTC under the administration of President George W. Bush. Currently she is the director of National Economic Research Associates’ Securities and Finance Practice and the White Collar, Investigations and Enforcement Practice. She also is a member of the CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee and a professor at Tulane University. She is also a member of the landing team for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION (FDIC)
Paul Atkins is in charge of financial regulation for the Trump transition. He is the CEO of Patomak Global Partners, a consulting firm that advises financial services companies on compliance issues. Atkins formerly served as a commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he was viewed as being largely opposed to regulation. He is also a member of the landing teams for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY (FHFA)
Timothy Bitsberger served as managing director of BNP Paribas until November 2015. He worked before that at Booz Allen and Freddie Mac. He was Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets at the U.S. Treasury for four years during the George W. Bush administration.
FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD
Ralph Ferrara is 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.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (FTC)
Alex Pollock is distinguished senior fellow and financial systems studies director at the corporate-backed, libertarian think tank R Street Institute and formerly a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the previous president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. He has served for a dozen years on the board of directors of the CME Group, a derivatives trading platform company. He is also on landing team for the Financial Stability Oversight Council.
FINANCIAL STABILITY OVERSIGHT COUNCIL (FSOC)
Alex Pollock is distinguished senior fellow and financial systems studies director at the corporate-backed, libertarian think tank R Street Institute and formerly a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the previous President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. He has served for a dozen years on the board of directors of the CME Group, a derivatives trading platform company. He is also on the landing team for the Federal Trade Commission.
GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Robert Mackichan is a former general counsel for the General Services Administration 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 2002–2013, his corporate clients included American Express, Coach, Northrop Grumman.
NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION (NCUA)
Michael Fryzel is a former chairman and board member of the National Credit Union Administration under the administrations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama who now works in private practice (Michael E. Fryzel & Associates, Financial Service Consultants).
NATIONAL SERCURITY COUNCIL
Marshall Billingslea is a director with Deloitte Consulting who works on national security issues. Previously he was an official at the Department of Defense, the Navy, the State Department and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Tera Dahl is the executive director of Council on Global Security, a nonprofit that accepts corporate funds and, according to its website, was “established to uncover and counter the totalitarian ideologies that endanger individual liberty and human development around the world.” A frequent contributor to Breitbart.com, the far-right website that Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, once led, Dahl was a formerly the personal assistant to 2012 Republican presidential candidate and former member of Congress Michele Bachmann.
Thomas Higgins is the chief administrative officer and executive vice president of First Data Corporation, a payment processing technology company. He worked on national security for the federal government for 24 years. Before First Data, he led military and veteran initiatives for JPMorgan Chase.
Sven Kramer is a distinguished fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council. He served on the National Security Council under the administrations of Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Reagan and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense under the Kennedy and George W. Bush administrations.
Mark Scraba is the president of 29K Leaders, a private leadership consulting firm. A brigadier general, he served in the Office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates under the administration of President George W. Bush and directed efforts to combat drug trafficking for the U.S. European Command. He was one of the military leaders who endorsed Trump during his presidential campaign.
Kiron Skinner, Ph.D., is the director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for International Relations and Politics and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, which receives funding from conservative Scaife and Walton foundations. She served in various policy advisory roles under the President George W. Bush administration.
OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE CURRENCY (OCC)
Paul Atkins is in charge of financial regulation for the Trump transition. He is the CEO of Patomak Global Partners, a consulting firm that advises financial services companies on compliance issues. Atkins formerly served as a commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he was viewed as being largely opposed to regulation. He is also a member of the landing teams for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMB)
Dan Kowalski is deputy staff director for the Republican-led U.S. Senate Budget Committee. He worked for the Congressional Budget Office under the administration of President Bill Clinton and for the House Budget Committee from 1998 to 2007.
Linda Springer is working on Office of Management and Budget issues. She is a previous director of the Office of Personnel Management and controller of the Office of Management and Budget. Following her government service, Springer became an executive director in Ernst & Young’s government and public sector practice.
OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT (OPM)
Paul Conway served as the chief of staff for the Office of Personnel Management under the administration of President George W. Bush. His experience includes stints at the corporate-backed Heritage Foundation and the Koch-backed Generation Opportunity, the billionaire brothers’ millennial outreach effort. Previously he worked in the Labor Department and in the Education Department under President Ronald Reagan.
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Geof Kahn is a congressional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION (SEC)
Sharon Brown-Hruska served as acting chairman of the CFTC under the administration of President George W. Bush. Currently she is the director of National Economic Research Associates’ Securities and Finance Practice and the White Collar, Investigations and Enforcement Practice. She also is a member of the CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee and a professor at Tulane University. She is also a member of the landing team for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Farm Credit Administration (FCA).
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
David Black is general counsel at the Social Security Administration.
Tom Leppert is 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 also is a member of the landing team for the Commerce Department.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
Mary Anne Bradfield is a supervisor in records management for Accelerated Development & Support Corp, a former deputy assistant administrator at the Small Business Administration and a former state lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.
U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
Dan DiMicco is overseeing the transition for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. DiMicco was Trump’s top trade advisor during the campaign. DiMicco was the CEO of Nucor, a successful steel company based in North Carolina, from 2000 to 2013. DiMicco is on the board of Duke Energy, an electric power company.
Robert Lighthizer is a partner at the law firm Skadden Arps, where his clients include large U.S. corporations and coalitions. He represents heavy manufacturing, agricultural and high-tech companies, as well as financial services institutions. He served as deputy U.S. Trade Representative during the Reagan administration. His corporate lobbying clients have included US Steel, Corning, Colgate-Palmolive, Entergy Corp, AIG, News Corp, PhRMA and Glaxosmithkline.
Robert Weissman, Public Citizen president, and Taylor Lincoln, research director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, contributed to this report.