Cashing in on Trump's first 100 days: Former top campaign aides rake in millions as new lobbyists

Trump is actively flouting even the most basic principles involving cleaning up cronyism in government

By Matthew Rozsa
April 24, 2017 7:43PM (UTC)
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Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

President Donald Trump's pledge to "drain the swamp" quickly became one of the most famous broken promises in modern American political history. Now at nearly 100 days in office, it looks like Trump is actively flouting even the most basic principles involving cleaning up cronyism in government.

A number of top campaign aides and fundraisers with connections to both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been cashing in on their ties, according to a recent report by USA Today.


Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has founded a lobbying firm called Avenue Strategies that has earned $140,000 from five clients during the first quarter of 2017, including the Puerto Rican government. Similarly, Brian Ballard, who was a major fundraiser for both the Trump campaign and Trump's inaugural committee, has managed to win a $110 million federal contract for a private prison company named GEO Group to build an immigration detention facility. His lobbying firm Ballard Partners has also acquired deals to represent the ruling political parties in both Albania and the Dominican Republic.

Bill Smith, who served as Pence's chief of staff during both his congressional and gubernatorial careers, has earned $125,000 in the last quarter representing a handful of corporate clients like Microsoft and AT&T, and has only reported lobbying with the vice president's office.

In a statement to USA Today, the White House claimed that a "great number of highly talented people working on his campaign. It isn't a surprise those who did not choose to join the administration are highly successful in whatever endeavor they undertake. There is no legal restriction from former campaign aides having positive relationships inside and outside the White House."


Trump has already revoked his predecessor's 2009 executive order, which blocked people who were registered lobbyists in the preceding year from taking administration jobs.

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Corey Lewandowski Donald Trump Drain The Swamp Lobbyists Mike Pence Trump's First 100 Days Video Partner