At least 40 people working for President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team are or were registered lobbyists, according to a new report.
The report, published by the Wall Street Journal, was done by searching the congressional lobbying databases for the over 500 appointees to the Biden transition team.
In late September, as a Biden transition team was beginning to come together, the Democrat opted to allow lobbyists to join the transition effort, but only in circumstances where the group’s general counsel Jessica Hertz signed off.
The decision was slammed by progressive advocacy groups, but Team Biden held firm, arguing that some of the experts being excluded because of their lobbying experience were experts on issues related to the pandemic response.
“We have granted a handful of authorizations, including for individuals with expertise in pandemic response who recently advocated on behalf of their public interest, nonprofit employers,” a transition official said in a statement at the time.
The five are Andrea Delgado, currently registered as a lobbyist for the United Farm Workers Foundation; Celeste Drake, currently registered as a lobbyist for the Directors Guild of America; Joss Nassar, currently registered as a lobbyist for the United Auto Workers; LaQuita Honeysucker, who was registered as a lobbyist for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union until earlier this year; and Scott Frey, who was registered as a lobbyist for the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees until earlier this year.
None of the five responded to the Journal’s requests for comment.
A Biden transition official told the outlet that all five were approved and each was given a written waiver approving their work.
While the transition’s ethics rules were being formed, Biden’s team was divided on the issue of lobbyists joining the team, according to Axios.
Biden, the outlet reported, tried to find a compromise by not imposing a blanket ban.
The move would allow his administration to call on individuals with years of expertise on critical issues who would otherwise have been shot down by progressives.
A Biden official also told the Journal, “Agency review team members are well-respected in their fields and for their extensive experience in the federal agencies they review.”