A well-known Florida lobbyist has made himself a lucrative home in Washington as his relationship with President Donald Trump is now worth more than it ever was. His short order success on the federal lobbying scene highlights how although Trump coined the slogan "drain the swamp" while on the campaign trail, he's fully embraced its personal benefits since moving into the White House.
Brian Ballard, of Ballard Partners LP, reeled in $9.8 million in federal lobbying fees in 2017 which is "the most of any new K Street arrival in the two decades such records have been available," Bloomberg News reported. His relationship with Trump has made him the go-to man for clients.
Ballard first met Trump in the 1980s and was a lobbyist for the Trump Organization in Tallahassee, Florida, for years. During the election, Ballard supported Jeb Bush in the primaries, and eventually Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Once Rubio dropped out, Ballard went to Trump and led fundraising efforts in Florida. When the election was over, he served as the vice chairman of Trump's inaugural committee, which raised a record-setting $106.7 million, Bloomberg noted.
He then opened a Washington office where he "carefully picked Washington veterans" and even obtained a handful of foreign clients. So far, he's had quite unprecedented success in his first year inside the Beltway. Some of his major clients have included American Airlines Group Inc., Prudential Financial Inc., as well as Amazon, Uber and Reynolds American subsidiary RAI Services Co.
The efforts of his firm are pretty clear: the White House is listed as the focus for its lobbying, Bloomberg noted. All told, Ballard's firm was among the top 30 biggest earners of federal lobbyists last year.
Ballard is no longer a lobbyist for the Trump Organization, but his efforts and his relationship with Trump show how his firm has essentially become the de-facto shop to turn to if you're looking to get the attention of the White House. After having served as the president's fundraiser on the campaign, coupled with the massive donations brought in while he worked on the inaugural committee, he has proven himself as someone who can serve his clients better than perhaps any others under the Trump administration.
Ballard is one of more than 40 individuals with close ties Trump or Vice President Mike Pence who have gone on to work as lobbyists in 2017.
As the president's agenda continues to be rooted in pro-business and deregulatory laissez-faire economics, Ballard's firm will look to amass far more power than just some first-year records.