It’s Friday, and Washington, DC is still a corrupt cesspool! USA Today reported today that lobbyists with ties to Donald Trump and Mike Pence have raked in at least $28 million for their lobbying since Trump became president.
Chief among them: Brian Ballard, a former Trump campaign finance chair and supposed Trump whisperer, whom Politico once described as taking “pains to avoid the appearance of cashing in on his relationship with the president,” while still doing exactly that.
In fact, Ballard made that point again to USA Today:
Ballard, who counted Trump among his longtime Florida lobbying clients, said his firm sells expertise, not access.
“I’m proud of our association with the administration,” Ballard told USA TODAY. “But we strive diligently to prove our worth based on merits, not on who did what during the campaign. That’s in the past.”
That is... bullshit! But it doesn’t really matter; Ballard is smart enough to know that bragging about access in the press might feel good, but to make the most cash—nearly $14 million since February 2017, according to reports filed with Congress and reported by the newspaper—keeping the access pitch to quiet lunches with clients at Morton’s Steakhouse is for the best.
Another former Trump campaign official, Barry Bennett, has also built a successful lobbying firm since Trump’s inauguration. Avenue Strategies represents Bank of Beirut, payday lender Community Choice Financial, the Dream Center, a for-profit education company, and more. Bennett is “earning even more from Qatar through a contract he signed last July as tensions between Qatar and its neighbors worsened,” according to USA Today.
A press release on his firm’s website shows Bennett requested the Department of Justice probe “serious violations” by Saudi Arabia of laws requiring agents of foreign nations to register with the DOJ. “Transparency is paramount against today’s backdrop of terrorists and self-serving foreign actors trying to sway and taint US foreign policy,” Bennett said in the statement. Actors like.... Qatar, presumably? Weird job to have, in my opinion.
The revolving door of staffers to lobbyists and vice versa is not unique to the Trump administration: Many former lobbyists went to work for the Obama administration, and top Obama staffers later went on to work for such charming corporations as Amazon and Uber. But it’s rather ironic, shall we say, a mote hypocritical, a little amusant, for this to occur under the administration predicated on “draining the swamp.” Ho ho! Another Trump lie skewered. Got him.