“Emily Hargan, who is married to Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, has been lobbying the agency for roughly one month on behalf of health care clients,” STAT reports.
New York Times: “Michael B. Williams spent nearly two years helping to run a trade group focused on expanding sales of firearm silencers by American manufacturers. But try as he might, he could not achieve one of the industry’s main goals: overturning a ban on sales to private foreign buyers enacted by the State Department to protect American troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”
“Then Mr. Williams joined the Trump administration. As a White House lawyer, he pushed to overturn the prohibition, raising the issue with influential administration officials and creating pressure within the State Department, according to current and former government officials. On Friday, the State Department lifted the ban, and a longtime industry goal was realized. The change paved the way for as much as $250 million a year in possible new overseas sales for companies that Mr. Williams had championed as general counsel of the American Suppressor Association.”
Politico: “As Trump prepared to sign his administration’s ethics pledge in 2017, he joked that ‘most of the people standing behind me will not be able to go to work’ on K Street. Yet one of the people standing behind him — then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus — is now the chairman of a lobbying firm that’s hired several other former White House aides, two of whom have registered as lobbyists.”
“Rick Dearborn, who served as a White House deputy chief of staff, is now a lobbyist for clients such as MetLife and Verizon. Chiefs of staff from Vice President Mike Pence’s office, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Health and Human Services Department, the Transportation Department, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Environmental Protection Agency have all been absorbed by the influence industry, though not all of them have registered as lobbyists.”
“Forty lobbyists with ties to President Trump helped clients secure more than $10 billion in federal coronavirus aid, among them five former administration officials whose work potentially violates Trump’s own ethics policy,” the AP reports.
“The lobbyists identified Monday by the watchdog group Public Citizen either worked in the Trump executive branch, served on his campaign, were part of the committee that raised money for inaugural festivities or were part of his presidential transition. Many are donors to Trump’s campaigns, and some are prolific fundraisers for his reelection.”
“Jack Abramoff, the onetime Washington insider who went to prison in a lobbying scandal, was charged with a criminal conspiracy related to crypto currency and lobbying disclosure,” Bloomberg reports.
“Abramoff has agreed to plead guilty and faces as long as five years in prison.”
Politico: “The lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs has fired former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, one of Washington’s most prominent lobbyists. The firm gave no reason for the Mississippi Republican’s sudden departure and declined to answer questions about it.
Washington Post: “As lobbyists blitz Washington for a piece of the massive federal response to the global pandemic, a group of former Trump administration officials and campaign alumni are in the center of the action, helping private interests tap into coveted financial and regulatory relief programs.”
“An Associated Press analysis of federal lobbying filings shows the number of companies and organizations hiring lobbyists shot up dramatically across the months of February, March and early April. Of the more than 700 registrations filed since the beginning of the year, at least 70 specifically mention the new virus, COVID-19 or a global health crisis. Dozens of other lobbyists and firms who were previously retained list the virus or the stimulus legislation in recent quarterly lobbying reports.”
“And there has also been a stark increase in medical groups, drug makers and others connected to the medical industry who have hired lobbyists, even if the virus was not specifically given as a reason in the disclosures.”
New York Times: “The prospect of a bailout of a scale without precedent has set off a rush to the fiscal trough, with businesses enduring undeniable dislocation jostling with more opportunistic interests to ensure they get a share.”
“While the halls of the Capitol are eerily quiet, lobbyists are burning up the phone lines and flooding email inboxes trying to capitalize on the stimulus bills moving quickly through Congress.”
“The plastic shopping bag has long been hunted by state and local policymakers pushing for its extinction. But still it thrives, thanks to the deep-pocketed chemical industry that birthed it and the political influence of retailers and restaurants,” Politico reports.
“Only eight states ban single-use plastic bags. Nearly twice as many have laws protecting them.”
Sara Goddard: How to pass a plastic bag ban: 8 key lessons.
Washington Post: “FBI agents investigating a lobbyist who has claimed to have close ties to President Trump and his family searched the man’s Northern Virginia home and D.C. office early Thursday looking for evidence of possible fraud.”
“Lobbyists either helped draft or made extensive revisions to opinion columns published by three state lawmakers in a way that warned against the dangers of Medicare-for-all and other government involvement in health care,” according to the Washington Post.
“Montana state Rep. Kathy Kelker (D) and Sen. Jen Gross (D) acknowledged in interviews that editorials they published separately about the single-payer health proposal included language provided by John MacDonald, a lobbyist and consultant in the state who disclosed in private emails that he worked for an unnamed client.”
President Trump distanced himself from “a man named Michael Esposito” in a series of tweets this morning.
The Washington Post notes Esposito’s soaring rise as a lobbyist is due to his claims to be “close to centers of power in the Trump administration.”
Contract bids says Esposito has “an open line of communication to the President of the United States” and is in “regular” contact with the president. The same proposals say Esposito worked with the president’s son Eric Trump and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner on real estate deals. And the firm’s website calls Esposito “an integral part of the senior-most leadership” of the Republican National Committee.
“A prolific political fundraiser who donated large sums to President Trump’s inaugural committee is expected to plead guilty to federal criminal charges.” the AP reports.
“The Justice Department says Imaad Zuberi will admit in federal court in Los Angeles that he falsified records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level U.S. government officials.”
Rudy Giuliani was paid $500,000 for work he did for Fraud Guarantee, a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges, Reuters reports.
“Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine,” the New York Times reports.
“Federal law requires American citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.”
“In less than three years, President Trump has named more former lobbyists to Cabinet-level posts than his most recent predecessors did in eight, putting a substantial amount of oversight in the hands of people with ties to the industries they’re regulating,” the AP reports.
“The Cabinet choices are another sign that Trump’s populist pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ is a catchy campaign slogan but not a serious attempt to change the way Washington works.”
Former White House counsel Greg Craig was acquitted by a federal jury on Wednesday on a felony false-statement charge, a major vindication for one of the most prominent lawyers in Washington, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The acquittal lifts a pall over Mr. Craig’s otherwise distinguished career at the upper echelons of law and politics, and represents a major setback for the Justice Department, which sought to make an example of Mr. Craig as it ramped up its enforcement of the laws governing work on behalf of foreign governments.”