Biden Quietly Adds Goldman Sachs, Big Tech Officials to Transition

Alumni of Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs, tech giants Google and Facebook and notorious consulting firm McKinsey, are on the agency review teams.  

Joe Biden at drive-in rally at Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, Oct. 30, 2020. (Adam Schultz, Biden for President, Flickr)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team in recent weeks has quietly brought aboard alumni of Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs, tech giants Google and Facebook, and notorious consulting firm McKinsey, heightening alarm among watchdog groups that have urged the incoming administration to steer clear of the corrupting influence of corporate America.

Without the public announcements that accompanied the president-elect’s cabinet picks and original members of the transition, Team Biden has added to its agency review groups Monica Maher, vice president for cyber threat intelligence at Goldman Sachs; Eric Goldstein, an 18-year Goldman Sachs veteran; and Josh Zoffer, a former engagement manager at McKinsey who now works at private equity firm Cove Hill Partners.

On or around Thanksgiving, Politico reported, Biden’s transition also “quietly added four Facebook and Google employees to its agency review teams,” despite pressure on the president-elect to resist Big Tech’s efforts to “co-opt” his administration. As Reuters pointed out earlier this month, there are currently “more tech executives than tech critics on Biden’s transition team.”

Goldman Sachs’ global headquarters, in center, in New York’s lower Manhattan, 2010. (Dismas, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Eleanor Eagan, research assistant at the Revolving Door Project (RDP), an initiative that scrutinizes executive branch appointees, told Common Dreams Tuesday that the Biden team appears to have been counting on “people not paying quite as much attention” to later additions to the transition team.

“This move by the transition team to slip in these revolving-door figures later in the game certainly is a troubling indication of what could be to come” as Biden begins staffing lower-profile but powerful positions in his administration, said Eagan.

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As part of its ongoing effort to shine light on industry influence on the upper reaches of the federal government, RDP on Tuesday morning unveiled a Personnel Map that aims to visualize and track “the breadth and depth of corporate America’s interest in the executive branch.”

News of Biden’s latest additions to his transition team “fits very well with what we’re trying to highlight with the Personnel Map,” said Eagan.

“Corporate America is meticulous in its pursuit of influence over the executive branch, targeting not only the highest profile spots but the full slate of relatively obscure, powerful positions beneath them,” Eagan added in a statement. “The Revolving Door Project believes it is time for groups with the public interest at heart to think just as expansively about executive branch governance.”

With Biden’s cabinet beginning to take shape following his picks to lead the State Department, the Pentagon, the Agriculture DepartmentHousing and Urban Development, and other key agencies, progressives are growing increasingly concerned about the corporate ties and business-friendly records of several of his nominees.

Neera Tanden in 2019. (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Tom Vilsack, Biden’s pick to lead USDA, is a dairy industry lobbyist; retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, the president-elect’s nominee for defense secretary, currently serves on the board of Raytheon, one of the largest military contractors in the world; and Antony Blinken, Biden’s secretary of state pick, co-founded a consultancy firm that has worked on behalf of corporate clients in the tech, finance, and arms industries.

“I think there are some red flags or, in this case, some discouraging blue flags,” Norman Solomon, national director of the progressive advocacy group, told the Associated Press over the weekend, pointing specifically to Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

Progressives have also been vocalizing their frustration with what they view as a lack of representation among the president-elect’s nominees thus far. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told Axios last week that given the significant role it played in Biden’s decisive victory, “the progressive movement deserves a number of seats—important seats—in the Biden administration.”

“Have I seen that at this point? I have not,” the Vermont senator said. “I’ve told the Biden people: The progressive movement is 35-40% of the Democratic coalition. Without a lot of other enormously hard work on the part of grassroots activists and progressives, Joe would not have won the election.”

Evan Weber, political director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, told The Washington Post over the weekend that “we cannot move forward in a new direction with just the same people, including some of the people who are responsible for the mess we are in.”

“We would like to see more young progressives in roles in the Biden administration,” said Weber.

This article is from Common Dreams.

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11 comments for “Biden Quietly Adds Goldman Sachs, Big Tech Officials to Transition

  1. Dao Gen
    December 23, 2020 at 00:32

    Out of the frying pan and into the fire. With Trump, the MSM took an adversarial, critical stance toward the executive, but with Biden, the MSM coddle him and shield him from all real criticism, so this may become the most nontransparent administration in US history. Biden is a DC insider, so he knows all the tricks about making grift look like self-sacrifice. And Biden also knows his “proper role” is not to jawbone but to grease the wheels of corporate and institutional power. Because of the media protection of Biden and Biden’s own big bag of public-fooling tricks, the Biden administration is likely to be even worse than the Trump administration. The devil you see is at least a little better than the one you can’t see. The tightening of the Big Tech-Finance nexus is particularly disturbing, especially after the significant increase in social media censorship during the recent presidential campaign. And why is Biden putting so many finance-related people into the Dept. of Justice? Maybe it’s time to start rereading Mussolini on corporate fascism.

  2. Jay
    December 22, 2020 at 16:19

    “meet the new boss,
    same as the old boss,”

    From The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, for those who don’t know the source.

  3. rosemerry
    December 22, 2020 at 14:36

    Poor Bernie. After all the disgusting actions against him and his continuing loyalty to his “friend Joe,” he and any other even vaguely progressive ( I almost wrote “human”!!) figures do not appear at all despite their sad attempts to get rid of Trump by voting for someone you have all noted would be predictably like Obama, whose virtues have been vastly exaggerated in the public mind.

  4. the sidehillgouger
    December 22, 2020 at 12:13

    Just as Obama was Bush lite, Biden will be a watered down Trump.

    • Anne
      December 22, 2020 at 13:08

      Bush and Trump with nicer lipstick (or maybe Harris with such)…..Indeed, Biden = Truman, the Kennedys, Nixon, Reagan, the Clintons, the Bushes et al…there is no difference besides the minor diversity/not diversity one…

      All about the $$$$$$ in all directions above the top 10%, all about slaughtering people in other cultures, devastating their societies and stealing their resources….It matters NOT at all which face of the Janus Party resides in the Wh +/ or holds the majority in the US Congress they all, both sides of the so called aisle, dance to the same tunes, acquiesce to the demands of the same puppet masters (the ones with the untaxed gazillions)…..

      • December 22, 2020 at 14:08


      • Dao Genc
        December 22, 2020 at 21:28

        Yes! The only way Bernie can contribute now is to help us form a new third party. We also need to switch to a parliamentary system in which a much wider range of views can be represented. The US electoral system must be completely overhauled, but Bernie refuses to participate. Where do his real loyalties lie?

  5. Susan Leslie
    December 22, 2020 at 09:25

    “you cannot have political machines and end corruption. Political machines breed corruption just like garbage breeds flies” Dick Simpson

  6. Anonymot
    December 21, 2020 at 20:05

    Joe Biden is doing exactly what anyone with any political experience expected him to do. He’s a male Hillary and has the same handlers. He’s Trump in a more presentable less wild and unpredictable. The military, the MIC, and the “intelligence” neofascists are back in full charge.

    Biden can’t take either Senators or Representatives with his minor margins. That leaves him with who? Guess!

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      December 22, 2020 at 08:00

      Agree. Everything Biden is doing and everything that, those who had voted for him are now complaining about, was completely predictable. It is not Biden that surprises me but those who are now complaining about Biden.

    • Claire Geddes
      December 22, 2020 at 11:06

      Thanks for your comment. You have succinctly described the horrible mess we are in.

Comments are closed.