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White House Ringed by 'Swamp' Denizens 01/23 06:13
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mike Pence has returned to Washington. So has his closest
political ally, Bill Smith.
Smith spent a dozen years as Pence's chief of staff while the current vice
president was a congressman and later Indiana governor. He's expanding his
lobbying practice into the nation's capital now that Donald Trump and Pence
hold the White House. In a photo on his firm's website, Smith and Pence are
seen huddling in close consultation on an airplane. "It's a new world," the
The "new world" of Trump's Washington was supposed to be one with fewer Bill
Smiths. But the lobbyists, consultants and ex-government officials who make
their living selling their influence aren't dissuaded by that piece of Trump's
Former campaign aides and other associates, like many before them, are
setting up shop in Washington, eager to trade on their connections. This
migration happens anytime a new president comes to town. Still, it demonstrates
the uncomfortable reality Trump faces if he is serious about his promises to
"drain the swamp" of those who use their ties to public officials to make "a
It also belies a reality of such perennial promises to clean up Washington:
No one, even those knee-deep in it, considers himself or herself to be part of
Smith said his experience with Pence will prove valuable to clients and that
it makes sense for those already with relationships to help shape the new
Washington. Smith works with technology, defense, energy and insurance
companies, among others.
Does that mean he's part of what Trump described as the swamp?
"It's really up to him to determine what's in the swamp and what's not,"
Smith said. He said he senses among government relations types "a desire to be
sensitive to the desires of the new administration when it comes to how they
want to interact."
The Trump campaign was far smaller and newer to politics than most, meaning
those who have not gone into the administration are in hot demand by companies
and industry groups hoping to make inroads with the new president.
Scott Mason, who was Trump's chief liaison to the House through the campaign
and transition, joined the government affairs firm Holland & Knight as a senior
policy adviser this month.
"There's that Trump campaign bond that'll be beneficial to me, to Holland &
Knight and ultimately to our clients," Mason said. He's not worried about how
his old boss will feel about his new job.
"There's the red-meat rhetoric, and there's the reality, and President Trump
has an extraordinarily good grasp of both," he said. "I think he will come to
realize that the government affairs professionals add value and add perspective
--- an important perspective."
Indeed, neither Trump nor top advisers has condemned any of the former Trump
team members' spin through the revolving door of Washington.
Trump's communications aides did not respond to requests for comment.
Lobbyists and trade groups were banned from contributing to the
inauguration. But judging by the swarms of influencers who made appearances at
official events this week, the new White House isn't eager to wage an immediate
Trump's first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and campaign adviser
Barry Bennett hung out their lobby-shop's shingle just down the road from the
White House. Their budding firm Avenue Strategies says it has already has
signed clients, including the incoming governor of Puerto Rico.
Lewandowski eagerly promotes his ties to Trump. "I had the privilege of
sitting on the President's Platform to witness the swearing in of
@realDonaldTrump as POTUS. What an amazing day!" Lewandowski wrote on Twitter.
Trump also gave prime access to Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who contributed
more than $20 million to the presidential race in its closing weeks. The
Adelsons were front and center during the swearing-in, and then they dined with
the new president and lawmakers at a congressional lunch that is usually
reserved for family, lawmakers and their spouses, and other dignitaries.
When the business of the Trump presidency begins on Monday, the Trump-tinged
lobby world will be ready.
One-time Trump national political director Jim Murphy recently joined the
firm BakerHostetler as a senior adviser for federal policy. Trump's former
campaign national field director, Stuart Jolly, signed on as president of
Sonoran Policy Group and has already helped connect the firm's clients,
including the New Zealand embassy, with new administration.
Jolly, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, said confidence in his own
character --- which he described as not swamp-like at all --- leaves him with
no qualms about his work in the influence industry.
"I'm still me," Jolly said.
Some inside Trump's White House also have close ties to the government
relations world that Trump derided during the campaign.
Communications aide Hope Hicks's father, Paul Hicks, is a managing director
in the New York office of the Glover Park Group, a strategic communications
firm with a large Washington presence. White House press secretary Sean
Spicer's wife, Rebecca Spicer, has spent a decade with the influential trade
group National Beer Wholesalers Association, serving as its chief
Two of Trump's most senior campaign and transition advisers, former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have their own
tightly entwined histories of government service and high-paying jobs
leveraging that experience.
Gingrich immediately followed up his two decades in the House by helping to
connect paying clients to his former colleagues. He's not taking a job in the
Trump administration but says he will provide Trump strategic advice.
Giuliani also will work as an unpaid adviser to Trump, leading his efforts
on cybersecurity for the private sector. The role appears to mirror his paid
gigs, as chairman of global cybersecurity practice at Greenberg Traurig and
chairman and chief executive officer of security consulting firm Giuliani
He's keeping those day jobs.
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