Raj Shah has left his role as White House deputy press secretary for greener pastures—and I mean “green” as in the color of that symbolic method of assigning value to products and services we all love: money.
Politico reported today that Shah is joining the lobbying firm Ballard Partners to head up its “nascent media group,” which according to the firm’s news release will be “a bipartisan, full service, multi-disciplinary strategic communications division that brings together the talents of professionals with unrivaled real-world expertise.” Sure! Shah’s statement, meanwhile, provided some hints as to what he might do in his new job:
It is worrying to imagine what statements like this might mean, with his reference to industries that face “scrutiny” from an “unrelenting media,” especially given Shah’s role in shepherding Brett Kavanaugh through his Supreme Court confirmation process.
Loyal Splinter readers will remember Ballard Partners for its leader, Brian Ballard, and his repeated insistence that his lobbying success has nothing to do with his many connections to prominent Republicans, including Trump. Last year, for example, USA Today reported that “Ballard, who counted Trump among his longtime Florida lobbying clients, said his firm sells expertise, not access.” Sure!!!
Shah will almost certainly make more than the $155,000 he made at the White House for this prestigious new role at Ballard, which took in $13 million in lobbying income last year. Their clients in that prosperous year ranged from Amazon, which also had 15 other lobbying firms on the payroll, to the nation of Qatar. I am sure that was because of their many years of Washington expertise—well, almost all of Brian Ballard’s years were in Florida, but nevertheless—and not because of Ballard’s regular dinners with Trump that motivated Amazon to add an expensive 16th firm to that list. (Amazon paid Ballard the second most of all their lobbying firms.) And just look at the victories Qatar has had since signing Ballard. On April 9, Al-Monitor had this headline:
And then, on April 10, this story appeared in the New York Times:
In 2017, Trump cooperated with Saudi Arabia to isolate Qatar. What could explain this “flip flop,” as Foreign Policy called it? Lots of things, of course. But I wouldn’t discount adding Ballard’s influence to that list.
Anyway, congrats to Raj Shah on his cool new job. Please send me $1,000.