Lobbyists

The Most Powerful Lobbyist in Trump’s Washington

Politico: “Ballard is a veteran Florida lobbyist who’s been in Washington for barely a year — the blink of an eye in an industry in which many of the top practitioners have spent decades inside the Beltway. But Ballard is closer to the president than perhaps any other lobbyist in town. He’s parlayed that relationship into a booming business helping clients get their way with the Trump administration — and his clients and even some of his rivals say his firm has a better grasp of what’s going on in the West Wing than almost anyone else on K Street.”

“Ballard’s relationship with Trump has helped him solve a lucrative puzzle that has frustrated more established players. For all of the president’s ‘drain the swamp’ rhetoric, the new administration has given corporate America and its lobbyists the opportunity to revive dreams of tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and rule changes that were mothballed during the Obama administration.”

Corker Says He Won’t Become a Lobbyist

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) says he has “no idea” what he’ll do once he leaves Congress in January, but he does know one thing his future won’t include: Following the well-worn Washington path from lawmaker to hired-gun lobbyist, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Said Corker: “You won’t see me around here. I don’t think I’ll be up here. You certainly won’t see me doing any kind of government relations work or anything like that. But, you know, we’ll see what happens.”

How Hedge Funds Secretly Get Their Way In Washington

“Since the work is concealed, there’s no way to know for sure how many hedge funds are leveraging Washington to benefit their portfolios. But interviewing insiders and scouring public records, Bloomberg Businessweek identified six major influence campaigns waged on behalf of investors in a particular stock or bond since 2006. DCI, it turns out, coordinated all six.”

“The campaigns are remarkably similar. Behind the scenes of official Washington, the company repeatedly crafted narratives portraying investors as victims of corrupt governments… If all went well, the targets of these campaigns—administration officials, media ‘thought leaders,’ and lawmakers—didn’t know they were being lobbied, much less who paid for it.”

Tax Bill Was Big Gift to Lobbyists

Politico: “President Trump just signed into law the biggest tax overhaul in a generation, but that means more work — not less — for Washington’s tax lobbyists. Rather than streamlining the tax code, Republicans have made it more complicated by jamming through a new series of temporary tax breaks for everything from craft brewers to citrus growers. Lobbyists expect these breaks, known as tax extenders, to generate paydays for years.”

“Adding to their workload: Republicans rammed their bill, H.R. 1 (115), through Congress so quickly that it’s almost certain to require follow-up legislation to fix the mistakes and miscalculations still being discovered, according to interviews with half a dozen tax lobbyists.”

Harassment Often Accompanies Access for Lobbyists

Vanessa Alarid told the New York Times about working as a lobbyist in New Mexico:

“You can have my vote if you have sex with me,” Ms. Alarid recalled the lawmaker saying, although he used cruder language for sexual intercourse. He told Ms. Alarid she had the same first name as his wife, so he would not get confused if he called out in bed. Then he kissed Ms. Alarid on the lips, she said.

Shocked, Ms. Alarid, who was 32 at the time, pushed him away. Only after he was gone did she let the tears flow.

When her bill came up on the floor of the New Mexico House of Representatives the next day, March 20, 2009, it failed by a single vote, including a “No” by the lawmaker, Rep. Thomas Garcia (D).

As Ms. Alarid watched from the House gallery, she said, Mr. Garcia blew her a kiss and shrugged his shoulders with arms spread.

It’s Mueller Who May Be Draining the Swamp

Washington Post: “Since Mueller was appointed, more people and firms have either filed or amended registrations that make public their work on behalf of foreign interests than had done so over the same time period in each of at least the past 20 years. Lobbyists, lawyers and public relations professionals who work for foreign companies and governments say Mueller’s probe has spooked K Street, and firms are likely to be more careful in their compliance with public disclosure standards.”

Lobbyists See Danger In Special Counsel’s Indictment

BuzzFeed News: “The threat of serving hard time for failing to disclose foreign lobbying work is rattling Washington’s multi-billion dollar influence industry following Monday’s 12-count indictment against Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates.”

“And although the charges have largely been seen as a blow to the White House, Monday’s actions by special prosecutor Robert Mueller also sent shivers down the spines of Washington’s lobbyists, both Democrats and Repulicans.”

Florida Democrat Apologizes for Affair with Lobbyist

Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens (D), the incoming leader of Florida’s Senate Democrats, apologized for having an affair with a lobbyist during the last legislative session, Politico reports.

Said Clemens: “I used poor judgment and hurt people that I care about, and for that I apologized long ago. But I also owe my constituents and colleagues an apology and I intend to do just that.”

“The affair between Clemens and lobbyist Devon West came to a head at the end of the regular spring lawmaking session, when West came into possession of Clemens’ Apple laptop, and gained access to all his contacts and personal information and then informed his wife of the tryst.”

Mueller Now Investigating Democratic Lobbyist

“Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” NBC News reports.

“The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller’s inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort… Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Podesta’s company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine’s image in the West.”

Lewandowski Appears to Be Working as a Lobbyist Again

Politico: “Months after Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, quit the lobbying firm he co-founded after the 2016 election, he appears to be working with a new one, reviving questions about whether he is still cashing in on his relationship with the president. The firm, Turnberry Solutions LLC — a name that calls to mind Trump Turnberry, the president’s Scottish golf resort — is staffed by two lobbyists who worked for Lewandowski’s old firm.”

“While Lewandowski has denied any link to the firm, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. Lewandowski was on a recent conference call between Turnberry and one of its clients, according to the client, and Turnberry also created an email address with his first name on it.”

Trump Aides Head for the Exits

“A fast-growing number of White House staffers are starting to look for the exits, even though the one-year mark of President Trump’s first term is still months away. Many who joined the administration in January did so with the explicit idea that they’d stay for at least a year, enough to credibly say they’d served,” Politico reports.

“But in the aftermath of a wave of abrupt, high-profile departures over the summer that culminated with former strategist Steve Bannon’s ouster in August, aides up and down the chain are reaching out to headhunters, lobbyists, and GOP operatives for help finding their next job.”

“They’re talking to headhunters about positions as in-house government affairs experts at major companies, or as executives at trade associations, universities, or consulting firms – ironically, jobs that run counter to Trump’s ‘drain the swamp’ mantra.”

CEOs and Lobbyists Golf Regularly at Trump Clubs

“Dozens of lobbyists, contractors and others who make their living influencing the government pay President Trump’s companies for membership in his private golf clubs, a status that can put them in close contact with the president,” a USA Today investigation found.

“Members of the clubs Trump has visited most often as president — in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia — include at least 50 executives whose companies hold federal contracts and 21 lobbyists and trade group officials. Two-thirds played on one of the 58 days the president was there, according to scores they posted online.”

“Because membership lists at Trump’s clubs are secret, the public has until now been unable to assess the conflicts they could create. USA Today found the names of 4,500 members by reviewing social media and a public website golfers use to track their handicaps, then researched and contacted hundreds to determine whether they had business with the government.”

Quote of the Day

“Everyone takes money in this town; everyone fights someone here. They’re just like me; like mercenaries. I spend other people’s money here to achieve other people’s goals.”

— Rinat Akhmetshin, quoted by the Financial Times, explaining his attendance at a controversial meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer.