Several Lobbyists Also Have Contributed to His Campaign Coffers; Ethics Complaint Filed for Possible Violations of Executive Order on Lobbying
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At least 40 lobbyists who are connected to President Donald Trump through his campaigns, inaugural committee, transition team or administration have lobbied on COVID-19 issues, according to a new Public Citizen report released today.
Trump-connected lobbyists collectively have represented at least 150 clients on matters relating to the pandemic, including at least 14 clients that are working on COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics or tests. Twenty-seven of these clients have received federal COVID-19 aid, totaling $10.5 billion in grants and loans – numbers that are likely a gross undercount due to lagging disclosure by the Trump administration.
Additionally, at least five of the lobbyists identified in the report may have violated a Trump executive order that restricts lobbying activities for those who leave the administration. Public Citizen today sent letters to the inspectors general of those lobbyists’ former agencies, as well as to the Office of Government Ethics, requesting an investigation.
“Instead of public health, the Trump administration has prioritized private wealth,” says Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Insiders, donors and lobbyists are cashing in on the crisis at the same time Trump’s cruelty, casual indifference to the loss of human life and utter incompetence are causing millions to get sick needlessly, and tens of thousands to die preventable deaths.”
Trump fundraisers lobbying on COVID-19 issues include the national co-chairman of the Trump Victory Committee and two lobbyists who have combined to “bundle” more than $5 million for Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee for 2020. Beyond fundraising, Trump-connected lobbyists working on COVID-19 issues have contributed more than $1 million to federal candidates and the national party committees from their own pockets so far in the 2020 election cycle.
The lobbyists named in the report include at least 20 people who worked in the Trump administration or provided special services for the administration; 11 alumni of the Trump presidential transition team; eight members of Trump’s campaigns; six people who raise money for Trump; and three vice chairs of Trump’s scandal-ridden inaugural committee.
“The rush of Trump alums to cash in on the pandemic confirms our suspicions about how business is done in Trump’s Washington,” said Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen. “The potential for favoritism is limitless. This report underscores the urgent need for comprehensive disclosure of where the trillions in public funds are going. Congressional oversight has never been more important to our democracy.”
The report is available here.