Hillary Clinton has named her transition team should she be elected in November, and the roster—as many feared—is a who’s-who of establishment figures, including former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has a maligned track record on climate.
The team will also include former national security adviser Tom Donilon, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, president of the Center for American Progress (CAP) Neera Tanden, and director of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics Maggie Williams. Two of the campaign’s policy advisers, Ed Meier and Ann O’Leary, will also serve as co-executive directors.
Salazar, whose career includes positions both in government and corporate Washington, D.C. firms, has previously pushed for projects that are reviled among environmental activists, such as fracking, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Keystone XLpipeline.
Just a year ago, Clinton and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post decrying the cyclical nature of Capitol Hill institutions that enable lawmakers and lobbyists to jump in and out of the private and public sectors.
“[I]ncreasingly, Americans’ trust in government is eroding. And a big reason for that is the so-called revolving door between government and the private sector,” they wrote.
But as David Sirota noted Tuesday at International Business Times, putting Salazar in charge of Clinton’s transition team only empowers more of the same:
Salazar served as Colorado’s Attorney General, U.S. Senator and Interior Secretary before traveling through that revolving door and taking a job in 2013 as a partner at WilmerHale—a law and lobbying colossus that has been calledone of the most influential forces in Washington. Salazar’s biography says that he “provides legal, strategic and policy advice to national and international clients, particularly on matters at the intersection of law, business and public policy.” He is one of 39 former public officials now working at WilmerHale, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The firm has recently been the subject of a ProPublica investigation that showed one of its partners gave a personal loan to Gene Sperling, then President Obama’s economic adviser, as the firm represented major financial institutions.
Salazar is not a registered lobbyist but he appears to fit the description of the kind of powerbroker that Clinton has criticized.
The former interior secretary has also previously said, “The TPP is a strong trade deal that will level the playing field for workers to help middle-class families get ahead. It is also the greenest trade deal ever,” and has claimed that “there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone.”
According to Politico, Salazar is also opposing an anti-fracking ballot measure in his home state of Colorado.
The team was announced just days after 15 progressive groups published an open letter calling on Clinton to appoint personnel that would prove her commitment to issues such as ending economic inequality and stopping the TPP.
“Historically, too many Wall Street executives and corporate insiders have traveled through the revolving door between private industry and government,” the letter stated. “The result of this practice is that the interests of elites are over-represented in Washington.”
The signatories included advocacy groups Public Citizen, RootsAction, and MoveOn.org. They urged Clinton to “publicly state that, should you win the presidency, you will appoint personnel from backgrounds in public interest advocacy, academia, and public service to influential positions within your administration, rather than merely drawing from the usual set of corporate insiders.”
“Personnel is policy,” they wrote.