Washington – Forty lobbyists with ties to President Donald Trump helped clients raise more than $ 10 billion in federal aid allocated to tackle the coronavirus, including five former administration officials whose work could be in violation of the rules, according to a report.
Lobbyists identified Monday by watchdog group Public Citizen either worked for Trump’s executive branch, served on his campaign, were part of the committee that raised money for the opening holidays, or were part of his presidential transition. Many are donors to Trump’s campaigns, and some are prolific fundraisers for his reelection.
These include Brian Ballard, who served in the transition, is the chairman of finance for the Republican National Committee and has raised more than $ 1 million for Trump’s fundraising committees. He was hired in March by Laundrylux, a provider of commercial laundry machines, after the Department of Homeland Security released a guide that did not list laundries as essential businesses that could remain open during quarantine. A week later, the administration issued a new guide to add the laundries to the list.RELATED
Dave Urban, Trump’s adviser and confidant, has raised more than $ 2.3 million in lobbying fees this year. The leading firm, American Continental Group, represents 15 companies, including Walgreens and the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, on coronavirus issues.
During his first campaign, Trump pledged to crack down on Washington’s influence peddling and promised to “drain the swamp.” But during his administration, lobbying flourished, a trend that intensified once Congress approved more than $ 3.6 billion in stimuli to deal with the coronavirus.
While the money is meant to be a lifesaver for a nation whose economy has been hit by the pandemic, it also fueled a lobbying boom.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Shortly after Trump took office, he issued an executive order prohibiting former officials from putting pressure on the agency or office where they were previously employed, for a period of five years. Another section of the order prohibits lobbying the administration by former political appointees for the rest of Trump’s time in office.
Craig Holman of Public Citizen, who is also a lobbyist, said the group intends to file ethics complaints with the White House, although it is not optimistic on the results. Holman filed more than 30 complaints last year, all of which were ignored or rejected.
“It appears that no one is enforcing the executive order,” said Holman.