The Trump administration has hired dozens of former lobbyists

They gave up on one fight while Donnie Twoscoops was out of town.

The White House unexpectedly backed down Friday in a confrontation with the government’s top ethics officer, announcing it will publicly disclose waivers that have been quietly handed out since January to let certain former lobbyists work in the administration.

The reversal came after the White House wrote last week to the Office of Government Ethics and asked its director to suspend his request for copies of the waivers. Such waivers are needed when officials want to work on policies or other government issues that they were directly involved in recently as private-sector lobbyists or industry lawyers.

The debate over the waivers — which were routinely made public during the Obama administration — has drawn heightened attention as the Trump administration has hired dozens of former lobbyists and lawyers, and is frequently placing them into jobs that overlap with the work they did for paying clients.

Like this guy for instance:

Michael Catanzaro, who until early this year worked as a lobbyist for a coal-burning electric utility and an oil and gas company, among other clients. He is now the top White House policy official overseeing the rollback of the same environmental protection rules he had lobbied against. So far this year, the Trump administration has not said if Mr. Catanzaro was given a waiver, as it was keeping them confidential.

Scuzzy enough? Companies that make money from coal, oil and gas don’t like environmental protection rules that cut into their profits, so lobbyists for such companies should not move to government jobs that have to do with those environmental protection rules. When they go to work for the government they should be working for the public good, not the private good of companies that make money from coal, oil and gas.

Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, said Friday evening that he was glad that the White House had changed its position, as it will allow his agency, and the public at large, to better evaluate if Trump administration officials are complying with the ethics rules.

But he also made clear that there should not have been a need for a confrontation before these waivers were made public.

“This really is routine stuff, and I am glad we are back on track again,” said Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year appointment overseeing the agency, which does not have subpoena power.

It should be routine, but when you have a scuzzy corrupt real estate hustler as president, anti-corruption rules are no longer routine.

Norman Eisen, who served as the White House ethics adviser at the start of the Obama administration, said this represented a clear reversal of the earlier position, which he said had clearly implied to federal agency heads that they should hold off from complying.

Mr. Eisen and other ethics lawyers said they believed that the Trump administration — even after promising to “drain the swamp” — had instead looked for ways to place former lobbyists and industry lawyers into jobs from which they could help former clients get special favors, be it in the energy industry or on Wall Street.

“It’s a victory for checks and balances, the rule of law and the independent oversight of the Office of Government Ethics, and the news media,” Mr. Eisen said. ”With any bully, when you punch them in the nose, they back down.”

Or else they take to Twitter and accuse you of crimes.

Former senior officials with the Office of Government Ethics said that in the 39-year history of the agency, which was created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, they could not remember an instance in which the White House had similarly tried to block, or even to discourage, an effort to collect ethics compliance data.

Trump is special that way.

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