40 Trump-connected lobbyists secured over $10B in coronavirus relief for clients: report

Source: The Hill | July 6, 2020 | Alex Gangitano

Forty lobbyists connected to President Trump have been hired to lobby on COVID-19 issues since the pandemic and secured over $10 billion in coronavirus relief aid for clients, according to a new report from progressive watchdog group Public Citizen.

The 40 lobbyists represented at least 150 clients, 27 of which received $10.5 billion in aid collectively, and 14 of which are companies working on vaccines, therapeutics or tests. The lobbyists either worked on Trump’s campaign, inaugural committee, transition team or in the administration. 

Brownstein Hyatt Faber Schreck is one of the firms mentioned in the report. It has signed at least 45 clients to work on COVID-19 issues. 

Emily Felder, former director in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’s Office of Legislation under Trump, and Geoff Burr, former chief of staff to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, are among the lobbyists at the firm working on some of these contracts.

Trump issued an executive order when he took office prohibiting former administration officials from lobbying the agency or office where they were worked for five years and prohibiting former political appointees from lobbying the administration during Trump’s time in office. 

“We are confident that our lobbyists are in compliance with all lobbying rules and applicable prohibitions and did not violate their Trump Administration pledge. Further, none of these individuals have lobbied the Executive Branch. These individuals are permitted to lobby the Senate or House and the LDAs reflect that,” a Brownstein spokesperson told The Hill.

In a letter to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and other agencies on Monday, Public Citizen requested an investigation into whether five former Trump administration officials, including Felder and Burr, violated the Trump ethics pledge during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The other three officials mentioned in the letter are Courtney Lawrence, a former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services who now works at Cigna; Shannon McGahn, a former adviser to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who now works for the National Association of Realtors (NAR); and Jordan Stoick, a former Treasury senior adviser who now works at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

“NAR takes its lobbying disclosure and ethics requirements seriously. NAR and its employees are in full compliance with the LDA’s post government employment restrictions as well as the Trump ethics pledge,” a spokesperson for NAR told The Hill.

NAM general counsel Linda Kelly said the claim Stoick violated the ethics pledge was misleading and irresponsible.

“Jordan Stoick has never lobbied Treasury during his time at the NAM. The NAM carefully adheres to the legal and ethical rules regulating lobbying activity, including ensuring that its employees comply with all applicable prohibitions on contacting their former employers,” she told The Hill in a statement.

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