President-elect Donald Trump has promised to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C., and one of the alligators has volunteered to help.
Former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has become one of the most prominent lobbyists in Washington since he left Congress, firmly ensconced at the prestigious firm of Squire, Patton and Boggs. Lott's success in gaining his clients' access to taxpayer largesse has earned him a reputation as one of the greatest rent seekers in America. Many would have assumed that the often-criticized sale of access to people with governmental power that Lott embodies is exactly the sort of "swamp" behavior that Trump promised to root out.
Lott, on the other hand, sees things another way. According to the New York Times:
With Republicans poised to control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Lott said he had not seen such a chance to help clients since he left the Senate in 2007 — whether by making changes to the federal tax code for Amazon or increasing military spending on new ships for Huntington Ingalls Industries.
“Trump has pledged to change things in Washington — about draining the swamp,” said Mr. Lott, who now works at Squire Patton Boggs, a law and lobbying firm. “He is going to need some people to help guide him through the swamp — how do you get in and how you get out? We are prepared to help do that.”
Across Washington, lobbyists and trade association executives were busy reviewing their priorities, which include repealing financial regulations instituted during the Obama administration, pushing for cuts in corporate taxes, overhauling Mr. Obama’s signature health care plan and spending billions on roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
Lott's argument — that no one is better qualified to help Trump drain the swamp than one of the swamp's main inhabitants — is likely to fall on deaf ears with Trump supporters, who will view any alliance with Lott with extreme suspicion. Unfortunately, one of the problems Trump faces as he assembles his cabinet is that he is in desperate need of people who are knowledgeable in navigating political systems. By his own admission, Trump needs political operators who know the system advising him.
However, Lott's comments — essentially bragging that the trough is open again with Trump in the White House — are likely to strike a sour note with Trump and his transition team as they attempt to establish a clean slate with America.