Corey Lewandowski works for corporate special interests, and he's selling access to Trump to the highest bidder.
December 2016: Lewandowski Founded A Lobbying Firm, Avenue Strategies, Soon After The 2016 Election, Joining A Rush Of Trump Associates Making Moves To Cash In On Their Ties To The New Trump Administration. “Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s polarizing first campaign manager, is not joining the White House and is instead launching a political consulting firm along with former Trump adviser Barry Bennett. The move from a close Trump ally to start a lobbying firm — one that will be based just one block from the White House — further calls into question Trump’s campaign pledge that he will “drain the swamp” in Washington. […]The website of the new government affairs and political consulting firm, called Avenue Strategies, advertised Lewandowski’s and Bennett’s close ties to Trump and even their office's physical proximity to the White House, at 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue (the same building that currently houses Trump's transition team). [...] Lewandowski and Bennett are joining a rush of Trump associates making moves to cash in on their ties to the new administration.” [Politico, 12/21/16]
Whereas A Typical Boutique Lobbying Firm Might Charge $10,000 To $15,000 A Month, Lewandowski’s Avenue Strategies Sometimes Asked For As Much As $50,000 A Month, A Top-Shelf Price On K Street. “Lewandowski’s help did not come cheap. A typical boutique lobbying firm might charge $10,000 to $15,000 a month. A big lobbying or law firm, with teams of paralegals or assistants and high overhead, might charge twice that, with a three-month retainer. Avenue sometimes asked for as much as $50,000 a month — a top-shelf price on K Street — and Lewandowski on occasion tried to go higher. But there were plenty of takers: By midwinter, Avenue had ‘more than a dozen, less than 50’ clients, Lewandowski told me at the time.” [New York Times, 8/30/17]
Politico: Lewandowski Is One Of Many Former Trump Staffers Who Have Offered To Advise Corporate American On Dealing With The Trump Administration, Showing The Appetite Among Trump’s Allies To Cash In On Their High-Profile Positions. “Lewandowski, meanwhile, is one of a multitude of former Trump campaign staffers and fundraisers who have offered to advise corporate America on how to deal with the administration. Some of them have registered as lobbyists, while others, including Lewandowski, have declined to do so. Zinke’s quick turn to the lobbying world and his move alongside Lewandowski also shows the appetite among the president’s allies to cash in on their high-profile positions, even when they’ve been dogged by controversy.” [Politico, 2/13/19]
Politico: People Familiar With Lewandowski’s Pitch To Potential Clients Said He Has Pledged That He Would Personally Call Trump Or His Cabinet Members If Necessary On Behalf Of Prospective Avenue Strategies Clients. “However, people who are familiar with Lewandowski’s pitch to potential clients say he has pledged that he would personally call Trump or his Cabinet members if necessary on behalf of prospective Avenue Strategies clients.” [Politico, 4/28/17]
At A Party Lewandowski Threw To Woo Potential Lobbying Clients At Avenue Strategies Corporate Offices, Lewandowski Boasted About His Access To Trump. “Access can be highly lucrative for lobbyists, particularly in the age of Trump, since relatively few established K Street powerhouses have ties to the new president. At a large party Lewandowski threw earlier this year to woo potential clients at Avenue’s corporate offices, he pointed out that the office overlooks the White House, and boasted about his access to the president and some of his clients, according to an attendee.” [Politico, 4/28/17]
In The Case Of At Least Two Clients Signed By Avenue Strategies, Lewandowski Said He Would Personally Make Calls To Trump And Administration Officials To Help The Clients Achieve Their Policy Goals. “In the cases of two clients signed by Avenue Strategies — a biomedical data company called Flow Health and the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration — Lewandowski said he would personally make calls to Trump and administration officials to help the clients achieve their public policy goals, according to three people familiar with Avenue’s pitches to the clients.” [Politico, 4/28/17]
Politico: Trump White House Officials Worried That Lewandowski’s Brazen Efforts To Market His Access To Trump Were An Influence-Peddling Scandal Waiting To Happen For Trump. “Yet Lewandowski has not formally registered as a lobbyist. The lack of any such registration by Lewandowski to date — combined with his boasts about his Trump connections — irks competing lobbyists and ethics watchdogs. They say Lewandowski is flouting the spirit of the lobbying rules, and abusing his access to the Trump White House. Meanwhile, White House officials worry that Lewandowski’s efforts to market his access — which are brazen even by K Street’s unbashful standards — are an influence-peddling scandal waiting to happen for a president who pledged to end the dominance of lobbyists and special interests in Washington.” [Politico, 4/28/17]
Vice President Of Government Watchdog Group, Public Citizen: “‘Whether Corey Lewandowski Is Just Engaging In Business As Usual Or Actually Going Further, It Definitely Has A Pervading Swampiness To It That Has Become The New Normal In Trump’s Washington” “‘Whether Corey Lewandowski is just engaging in business as usual or actually going further, it definitely has a pervading swampiness to it that has become the new normal in Trump’s Washington,’ said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for the government watchdog group Public Citizen.” [Politico, 4/28/17]
2019: Lewandowski Worked As A Senior Adviser At Washington Lobbying Firm, Turnberry Solutions. “Ryan Zinke, who resigned as interior secretary last year amid scandal, is teaming up with Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, to work as senior advisers at Washington lobbying firm Turnberry Solutions. Jason Osborne, a partner at Turnberry, said Lewandowski won’t do any work that would require him to register as a lobbyist, but said that Zinke was likely to do so.” [Politico, 2/13/19]
Before Joining Turnberry, Lewandowski Worked With One Turnberry’s Partners, Barry Bennett, And Another Of The Firm’s Lobbyists, Mike Rubino, On Both The Trump Campaign And At The Lobbying Firm Lewandowski Had Founded, Avenue Strategies. “Lewandowski and Osborne previously worked together at Avenue Strategies, the lobbying firm that Lewandowski started with Barry Bennett, after the 2016 election. Lewandowski quit Avenue in 2017 after stories raised questions about him cashing in on his access to the president. Mike Rubino, another Avenue lobbyist who had worked on the Trump campaign with Osborne, left Avenue soon afterward and started Turnberry.” [Politico, 2/13/19]
Lewandowski Allowed Turnberry Lobbyists To Work Out Of The Capitol Hill Row House He Lived In When He Was In Washington, D.C. “Lewandowski claimed at the time he had ‘nothing to do with Turnberry Solutions,’ but allowed Turnberry lobbyists to work out of the Capitol Hill rowhouse where he stayed when he was in Washington.” [Politico, 2/13/19]
Turnberry Solutions Partner Jason Osborne: “Corey Lewandowski Is Now Affiliated With” Turnberry, Saying “Now We’re Actually Working For The Same Company.” “One of Turnberry’s clients, T-Mobile, later said that Lewandowski was advising the company on its proposed merger with Sprint. And Joel Sheltrown, the vice president of government affairs for another Turnberry client at the time, Elio Motors, told POLITICO that Lewandowski had been on a conference call his firm had with Turnberry. ‘Corey Lewandowski is now affiliated with that firm and they have offered perspective to T-Mobile on a variety of topics, including the pending transaction,’ T-Mobile said in a statement last year about Turnberry. Osborne said the new arrangement would allow Lewandowski to work more closely with Turnberry. ‘Previously it was friends talking to each other, friends worked together in the same building,’ he said in an interview. ‘Now we’re actually working for the same company.’ Lewandowski said in a statement that he looked ‘forward to working with Secretary Zinke to provide strategic advice and counsel to clients.’” [Politico, 2/13/19]
Fred Wertheimer, President Of Watchdog Group Democracy 21, Said That Lewandowski Used His White House Access, Unfettered By Ethics Rules And Financial Disclosures Required Of Government Employees, For “Self-Dealing” And That He Wasn’t “There To Give Good Advice,” But Rather “To Get Special Influence For Their Clients Or Financial Benefits For Themselves.” “Fred Wertheimer, the president of the watchdog group Democracy 21, said Mr. Trump’s White House appeared to be allowing outside advisers an extraordinary amount of sway within the administration. Democrats in Congress have asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Mr. Icahn has pushed policies that have benefited his own businesses. Advisers like Mr. Icahn and Mr. Lewandowski exist in a ‘never-never land,’ Mr. Wertheimer said, allowed a high degree of White House access while remaining unfettered by the ethics rules and financial disclosures that apply to government employees. ‘This is self-dealing by these intermediaries,’ Mr. Wertheimer said. ‘They aren’t in there to give good advice about what an administration should do. They’re in there to get special influence for their clients or financial benefits for themselves.’” [New York Times, 8/1/17]
Although Lewandowski has been selling access in Washington, he has
avoided registering as a lobbyist, lurking in the shadows instead.
Politico: Despite Pitching Access To Trump To Potential Clients, Lewandowski Has Not Formally Registered As A Lobbyist, Irking Ethics Watchdogs Who Say Lewandowski Was Flouting The Spirit Of The Lobbying Rules And Abusing His Access To Trump. “However, people who are familiar with Lewandowski’s pitch to potential clients say he has pledged that he would personally call Trump or his Cabinet members if necessary on behalf of prospective Avenue Strategies clients. Yet Lewandowski has not formally registered as a lobbyist. The lack of any such registration by Lewandowski to date — combined with his boasts about his Trump connections — irks competing lobbyists and ethics watchdogs. They say Lewandowski is flouting the spirit of the lobbying rules, and abusing his access to the Trump White House.” [Politico, 4/28/17]
New York Times: Despite Leaving Avenue Strategies, Lewandowski Hadn’t Really Left The Swamp And Instead Receded Into The Nebulous Ranks Of Washington’s Unregistered Lobbyists, Founding A New Consulting Firm, Lewandowski Strategic Advisors. The next day, Lewandowski announced he was quitting Avenue. […] Lewandowski, I soon learned, hadn’t really left the swamp. He had merely receded into the nebulous ranks of Washington’s unregistered lobbyists. In July, he founded a new firm, Lewandowski Strategic Advisors. He offered clients ‘strategic advice and counsel,’ according to a copy of one contract I obtained, and had picked up at least one client from Avenue, the Ohio payday lender. He was back on TV more and more, energetically defending Trump and plumping for various private interests.” [New York Times, 8/30/17]
Politico: Sources Said That Lewandowski’s Pitches To Potential Lobbying Clients Stressed That He Could Advise Clients On How To Navigate Trump’s Washington Without Registering Their Contracts By Avoiding Making The Calls Himself, A Legal Loophole Named After Tom Daschle. “But several sources briefed on Lewandowski’s pitches said he stressed that he could advise clients on how to navigate Trump’s Washington without registering their contracts by avoiding making the calls himself. That loophole, which is still legal, was named for former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, who utilized it for years to evade lobbying disclosure. And more established consultants and lobbyists with blue-chip clientele have discussed the prospect of bringing in Lewandowski as a vendor on their contracts, according to consultants familiar with the talks. Such a subcontracting arrangement also could bypass disclosure triggers. And it could allow controversy-shy companies to benefit from Lewandowski’s undeniable access to Trump while avoiding the type of publicity that sometimes follows the bombastic GOP operative.” [Politico, 4/28/17]
New York Times: Lewandowski Appeared To Be Positioning His Consulting Firm As An “Advisory” Business And Part Of A “Growing Cohort Of Washington Influencers Who Advise Companies On How To Navigate The Government But Do Not Register As Lobbyists Or Disclose Their Clients. “About a week after leaving his old firm, Mr. Lewandowski started a new consulting business, according to corporate filings. And now, as he takes on an increasingly broad role as an unofficial White House adviser, he is building a roster of clients with major interests before the Trump administration, including an Ohio-based payday lender seeking to block or overturn new federal financial regulations. Mr. Lewandowski appears to be positioning his new firm as an ‘advisory’ business, part of a growing cohort of Washington influencers who advise companies on how to navigate the government but do not register as lobbyists or disclose their clients. A draft contract obtained by The New York Times stipulates that Mr. Lewandowski’s firm ‘cannot and will not engage in any lobbying or advocacy services.’” [New York Times, 8/1/17]
The Government-Ethics Watchdog Group, Public Citizen, Sent A Letter To The Department OF Justice And Congressional Lobbying Oversight Offices Requesting Investigations Into Whether Lewandowski Was Violating Lobbying Laws By Not Registering As Lobbyist. “Lewandowski and Bennett, also an ex-Trump campaign aide, started the firm, Avenue Strategies, soon after the election, boasting that they could use their understanding of the new administration to benefit clients. But Lewandowski had not formally registered to lobby for the firm, even though he pitched prospective clients and boasted often about his access to the White House. On Wednesday, the government-ethics watchdog group Public Citizen sent a letter to the Department of Justice and congressional lobbying oversight offices requesting investigations into whether Lewandowski was violating lobbying laws by not registering.” [Politico, 5/4/17]
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