President-elect Donald Trump arrives to speak to a "USA Thank You" tour event, Dec. 1, 2016, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

Team Trump takes pay-to-play politics to a new level

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump offered voters a two-pronged pitch when it came to contributors' influence. First, he insisted that Hillary Clinton would be "totally controlled" by her donors, and second, the Republican said his purported wealth made him immune to such pressures. Trump even made bogus claims about "self-funding" his campaign with $100 million in personal contributions -- which didn't materialize.

But the depth of the dishonesty surrounding Trump's rhetoric runs deep. Consider, for example, just how far the president-elect is going to please his wealthiest donors.

The Washington Post reported a couple of weeks ago, for example, that Trump "has now tapped six big donors and fundraisers to serve in his administration, lining up an unprecedented concentration of wealthy backers for top posts." Politico moved the ball forward overnight, noting the access donors have been able to purchase.

More than a third of the almost 200 people who have met with President-elect Donald Trump since his election last month, including those interviewing for administration jobs, gave large amounts of money to support his campaign and other Republicans this election cycle.

Together the 73 donors contributed $1.7 million to Trump and groups supporting him, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission records, and $57.3 million to the rest of the party, averaging more than $800,000 per donor.

Donors also represent 39 percent of the 119 people Trump reportedly considered for high-level government posts, and 38 percent of those he eventually picked, according to the analysis, which counted candidates named by the transition and in news reports.

Ordinarily, in both parties' administrations, donors are rewarded with diplomatic posts, but Trump is breaking new ground. Politico's piece added that "the extent to which donors are stocking Trump's administration is unparalleled in modern presidential history."

If you voted for Trump because you thought he'd "drain the swamp" and limit the influence of wealthy donors who write big campaign checks, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you.