Donald Trump’s Lobbyists
Donald Trump claims he doesn’t like or need lobbyists. He claims he cannot be bought. He has made it clear numerous times that he is using his money to fund his campaign, so he will not be beholden to any lobbyists or special interest groups. However, Trump’s claim that he doesn’t like or need lobbyists doesn’t square with reality.
Donald Trump loves lobbyists, and they love him. Trump’s campaign org chart looks like a K Street directory. Trump hired Paul Manafort from the lobbying firm Davis, Manafort, and Freedman, Inc. to be his chief strategist. Trump’s newest additions to his campaign are career lobbyists with professional ties to Manafort. Laurance Gray, Doug Davenport, Rick Gates, and Marc Palazzo are just a hand full of the lobbyists who have joined Trump’s campaign, and they are a who’s who of firmly entrenched lobbyists who have spent decades in Washington, D.C. as facilitators of crony capitalism.
Lobbyists in D.C. are excited about the possibility of a Trump presidency because he is a crony capitalist and deal-maker who has no interest in reforming the quid pro quo system. Former Senator Bob Dole who currently works for the lobbying firm Alston & Bird, LLP favors Trump over Senator Ted Cruz because Trump could “probably work with Congress because he’s, you know, he’s got the right personality, and he’s a deal-maker.” Dole uses the usual monikers for Cruz establishment types use for anyone who opposes the Washington Cartel, including “extremist” and “difficult.” Dole makes disparaging remarks about Cruz because he prefers to maintain the corrupt system that has made him a very rich man.
Every lobbyist in D.C. favors Trump over Cruz. Richard Hohlt, aka Mr. Inside, who has lobbied for big banks for decades, told The New York Times, “We can live with Trump.” Another powerful lobbyist named Charlie Black has given his sleazy endorsement to Trump. The Washington Examiner provided the following in a recent article:
“Reagan-administration veteran Charlie Black also said Trump would be preferable. Black’s arguments are electoral — that Trump is a more coachable candidate. It’s also relevant that Black is a powerful lobbyist for Google, AT&T, FedEx, and others. Trump would seek advice from the party establishment.”
The Washington Examiner also reported that the powerful lobbyist, John Feehery, tweeted, “Listen if Trump gets the nomination. I will support him. Cruz? Not so much.” Feehery is not just your run-of-the-mill lobbyist, he is a principal at the K Street firm QGA, who has used his crony skills to lobby for AT&T, the National Association of Broadcasters, Sony, U.S. Steel and others.
It appears that Trump has the support of every D.C. lobbyist, not just the ones who work for his campaign. It is possible that K Street lobbyists warmed up to him when they met him at a fundraiser in New York for the Make America Great Again PAC (MAGA).
The Daily Beast reviewed the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filing for the MAGA PAC and uncovered that the address to mail donations to the PAC is a UPS store in Midtown Manhattan. However, the return address for the PAC is in Colorado. The return address belongs to Jon Anderson, a lobbyist whose “practice is focused on corporate compliance and representing clients before federal, state, and local government,” according to Anderson’s Denver-based firm Holland & Hart. It turns out Trump’s favorite Super PAC (special interest group) is owned and operated by lobbyists. MAGA is everything Trump supposedly hates rolled into one.
Trump is okay with the status quo in Washington, D.C. He is not an enemy of lobbyists, crony capitalists, or special interest groups, and all of the above are well aware that Trump the candidate is saying what he thinks will get him votes, it’s all an act, but a President Trump would be their ally. Trump would bank the payroll of the Washington cartel like any other establishment politician.