Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump returned over and over again to his vow to “drain the swamp” and end the influence of highly paid lobbyists and political strategists.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2016
“I am going to stop the gravy train for all these consultants and all these people that are ripping off our country. It’s called the gravy train,” he told an audience in West Virginia in May.
“So I’ve watched the politicians. … They’re controlled fully — they’re controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors, and by the special interests, fully. Yes, they control them. Hey, I have lobbyists. I have to tell you. I have lobbyists that can produce anything for me. They’re great,” he told an audience in Trump Tower in June 2015 during the speech that launched his campaign. “But you know what? It won’t happen. It won’t happen. Because we have to stop doing things for some people, but for this country, it’s destroying our country. We have to stop, and it has to stop now.”
On Wednesday, however, two key Trump campaign advisers announced they would form a “full service government relations and political consulting firm” in Washington, “just a block from the White House” at 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
Corey Lewandowski, who served as Trump’s first campaign manager and was also paid by CNN to advocate for Trump on the air, will join with senior campaign adviser Barry Bennett to launch the firm. Their mission, Lewandowski revealed, would be supporting Trump’s agenda.
“After considering multiple opportunities within the administration,” Lewandowski wrote, he determined he can best help Trump “outside the formal structure of government.” He added that for Trump to succeed, it is “necessary to have strong, organized outside groups who can help ensure the President-elect’s agenda is achieved.”
But rather than launch a political advocacy non-profit, the two have opted to launch a “government relations firm.” The firm’s website makes clear that it plans to provide “client-tailored strategy and guidance carefully designed to help our clients navigate our government.” In other words, using their access to the new administration to make sure the President-elect’s agenda includes the priorities of their clients.
As Mother Jones noted, back in February Lewandowski denounced lobbyists as willing to say or do anything to preserve “backroom deals,” and vowed that if Trump won, “people who’ve made a very, very good living by controlling politicians through their donations and making sure they get the legislation done — or not done — in Washington, DC to best benefit their clients” would find their days of influence “coming to an end.”