A Thorn in Biden’s Side: the Revolving Door Project

Late last year, Politico described the Revolving Door Project’s Executive Director Jeff Hauser as “the thorn in the Biden transition’s side” for trying to push the Biden administration to reject standard, corporate-friendly, revolving door appointees in favor of those who would zealously fight for the broad public interest. In 2021, RDP has only become thornier with its relentless scrutiny of the executive branch. RDP envisions an executive branch that works as hard as possible and without fail for regular people, not for corporate interests. Its hard-hitting research and fiery commentary are helping to move us closer to that point.

The revolving door may not have been closed over the last year, but it’s spinning much less quickly than it was. Roles that once would have gone almost exclusively to Wall Street bankers and corporate defense attorneys are now in the hands of committed public servants. Those revolvers who have secured roles must now contend with a previously unimaginable level of scrutiny. Figures from White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, to Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner, Willie Phillips, can expect to have their every move that benefits corporate America at the expense of the public interest pilloried. Perversely, this certain backlash has led some within the Biden administration to try to hide their revolving door hires. RDP, however, has consistently foiled these efforts, making not only the appointees but also the astounding lack of transparency the subject of significant public anger.

RDP has also been unyielding in its efforts to push this administration to contend with Trump’s enduring influence throughout the executive branch. Almost as soon as Biden was elected, RDP called on his administration to commit to removing all Trump holdovers whom it was legally empowered to fire. Over a year later, only a small handful remain and critical roles like the Director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Commissioner for the Social Security Administration, and the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board are in the hands of officials committed to advancing this administration’s priorities. But RDP is not letting up anytime soon; it continues to push for the remaining political holdovers to be fired and to uncover additional evidence of Trump’s lasting influence over executive branch personnel. It is also calling out those Biden administration officials, most notably within the Department of Justice, who are keeping Trump’s horrifying legacy alive by defending the previous administration’s policies in court.

For all of its work pushing this administration to appoint the best possible personnel, RDP recognizes that that alone will not be enough for the executive branch to serve the public interest as effectively as possible. That’s why RDP is calling attention to a decades-long erosion in the government’s capacityand encouraging bold action to give executive branch agencies the resources they need to do big things once again. Thanks to everyone who has donated to our Spotlight campaign. If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation to CEPR today, so that we can continue to push the executive branch to work for the public interest, not corporate America.

Eleanor Eagan is a Research Assistant at the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. Dawn Niederhauser is the Development Director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research.