Of course, Trump had vowed to do exactly the opposite during the campaign.
The President-elect hounded Democratic rival Hillary Clinton with allegations about “pay for play” corruption during the election, and vowed to “drain the swamp” of insiders and wheeler-dealers.
DonaldTrump’s Pay-for-Pay Plutocracy Betsy DeVos, nominated to be Secretary of Education: The billionaire auto parts heiress spent $10.4 million on Republican candidates, including $445,000 to Trump.
Linda McMahon, nominated to head the Small Business Administration: McMahon, who made her fortune from professional wrestling gave $6 million to a pro-Trump campaign fund. She and her husband, Vince McMahon, are also Trump foundation donors.
Andy Puzder, nominated to be Secretary of Labor: As Chief Executive of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food chains, he and wife gave $160,000 to the Trump campaign and $600,000 to other Republicans.
Steven Mnuchin, nominated to be Secretary of the Treasury: Munchin a billionaire former Goldman Sachs partner and vulture investor, gave $425,000 to the Trump campaign and served as finance chairman.
Ben Carson, nominated for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: After his own presidential bid failed, Carson gave $100,000 to Trump’s campaign from his own campaign fund.
Trump’s Pay-for-Play Campaign/Transition Advisers Rebekah Mercer, a key adviser to Trump.The daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer spent more than $22 million backing Republicans in the election. Robert Mercer gave $2 million to a pro-Trump campaign fund.
Peter Thiel, the homosexual Silicon Valley venture capitalist, advised Trump during his transition. He spent almost $3.3 million on the election, including $250,000 to Trump’s campaign fund and $1 million to a Trump political action committee.
Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, campaign/transition adviser: The disgraced former CEO of AIG, Inc., gave Republicans more than $10 million during the election
Steve Feinberg, campaign/transition adviser; The CEO of Greenberg partner in Cerberus Capital Management, gave $339,400 to Trump’s campaign and $1.47 million post-election contribution to a pro-Trump political action.
Instead, he’s loaded up his government with his own insiders, corporate moguls and major campaign donors, who have paid millions of dollars, in some cases, for access and appointments.
In the latest example of Trump’s own brand of pay-for-play government, he hosted a private New Year’s Eve party at his Florida estate. More than 800 people paid $525 or more of a ticket for a chance to rub elbows with Trump and his family members.
The blue-collar, non-college-educated supporters who put him in office were likely represented by those serving drinks and busing tables.
Despite Trump’s relentless criticism of Clinton and alleged pay-for-play involving the Clinton Foundation, Trump has been playing the same game for years.
In 2013, Trump used his own foundation to donate $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was in the midst of investigating Trump University along with several other state attorneys general. Bondi was alone in dropping the investigation.
The foundation was forced to pay a $2,500 fine after the contribution was declared illegal. Tax-exempt charitable groups are not allowed to make political contributions.
Trump made no qualms about pay-for-play in a 2015 Wall Street Journal interview. “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump said.
Given his harsh, if unjustified, criticism of Clinton, you might think Trump would be showing special sensitivity to any accusations that he’s engaging in pay-for-play now that he is president-elect.
But in another departure from his campaign promises, he’s thrown open the doors of government to his cronies. Far from draining the swamp, he’s filling it with more alligators.
Foreign diplomats are reportedly flocking to make accommodations at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., which suggests it may be an opening quid-pro-quo for anyone government that wants access to the administration.
Since winning the election, Trump has been holding court at his hotel in New York City, meeting with business moguls, high-rolling political supporters and a slew of his big-money campaign contributors.
More than a third of the almost 200 people who have met with Trump, including those interviewing for administration jobs, gave large amounts of money to support his campaign and other Republicans this election cycle, according to Politico.
More than a third of his administration jobs have been used to reward his big donors, including six cabinet posts.
Of course, during the election, Trump said he was financing his campaign out of his own money to avoid being beholden to big donors, another accusation he threw at Clinton.
In fact, Trump collected tens of millions of dollars in contributions and funneled more than $13 million of that amount back into his own companies for various campaign “services,” including the cost of his private jet, according to federal campaign records.
Meanwhile, his Children, who run their own businesses and the Trump Organization have had unprecedented access to the White House and foreign heads of state.
According to The New York Times:
“Three of his four adult children, who are serving on his transition committee, have been a near-constant presence. One or more of them have participated in a meeting with the prime minister of Japan, joined in on a phone call with the president of Argentina, and sat at the conference table where Mr. Trump met with leaders of major technology companies. Donald Jr. also played a role in choosing Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of the interior. Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump has discussed an advisory role in his administration, and Mr. Trump has also mentioned her husband, Jared Kushner, as a possible adviser. Eric and Donald Jr. have said they plan to stay with the family businesses.
A president’s children or relations by marriage are barred by law from holding paid positions in federal agencies. The rules for unpaid and advisory appointments and White House jobs are more vague, according to The Times.
Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil and Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, is the only top administration appointee who didn’t contribute to the president-elect’s campaign. But faces concerns over his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In one of his loftier campaign statements Trump said last July “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people who cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”
Did he really me put in the fix?