Here’s a nice little item from yesterday’s edition of Politico’s lobbying newsletter involving our old friend Sean Spicer:
From Playbook’s afternoon edition: Sean Spicer “has launched RIGWIL LLC, a strategic consulting firm that is focused on advising corporate and trade association executives. The former White House press secretary recently hired Kay Foley as his chief of staff. Spicer said he does not plan to lobby. He also declined to comment on specific clients he is representing.”
We reached out to Foley to ask what “strategic consulting” entails, how it differs from straight-up lobbying, who RIGWIL’s clients are, and what the name means. We’ll update with any response we receive.
Aside from this Politico report and Spicer’s own words, however, there’s not much information yet as to what RIGWIL will exactly do. So let’s consider what some of Spicer’s fellow rejects from the president’s orbit have been up to:
- In October, Reince Priebus rejoined his old Wisconsin-based law firm as the head of its government affairs division. He said he wouldn’t lobby on behalf of corporations or foreign governments, but told Politico that his role would be to help clients “make progress” with the federal government, including Trump. “I look forward to continuing to work with friends and colleagues and assist them in maneuvering through politics, politicians and courtrooms,” Priebus told Politico at the time.
- Former Trump campaign officials Barry Bennett and Brian Ballard are making a killing off of lobbying. Their respective firms have lucrative lobbying deals with government of Qatar, according to USA Today. The paper found in the same report that lobbying firms managed by people who have connections to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence have collected $28 million since Trump took office.
- Last week, Politico reported that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is advising T-Mobile on its proposed merger with Sprint through Turnberry Solutions, a firm that Lewandowski had denied working for in an official capacity in the past. The firm still maintains that Lewandowski is an unpaid adviser. Last year, Lewandowski left Avenue Strategies (the firm he founded with Bennett) after Bloomberg published a report alleging that he was selling access to Trump.
- Michael Cohen was paid $600,000 by AT&T for “insights into the new administration” and $1.2 million by Novartis for what an employee described as “access not just to Trump, but the circle around him.” Last week, the BBC reported that Cohen was paid at least $400,000 by the Ukrainian government to get the prime minister real face-time with Trump while he was in Washington.
These are all examples of how access is hustled in Washington in the Trump era, a juiced-up version of the everyday corruption that has been a feature of our government for quite some time. Trump’s stupidity and, more importantly, his unpredictable nature make the people who dealt with him on a daily basis all the more valuable to clients, whether they’re companies or other governments.
And now it’s Spicer’s turn, after he debased himself for months in the service of a man who would not piss on him if he was on fire, to milk his connections in politics for all they’re worth. Keep on draining that swamp, Republicans.