Government affairs recruiter Ivan Adler spoke to Politico about the high demand – and paycheck – for Trump insiders in the lobbying industry.
By Isaac Arnsdorf & Kenneth P. Vogel | January 6, 2017
A growing number of Donald Trump’s allies are rushing straight to K Street to cash in, despite the president-elect’s pledge to restrain the industry, and their prized connections could draw huge paydays.
Legitimate ties to Trump and his inner circle are exceedingly rare — and coveted — in a lobbying industry where many established GOP players kept their distance from Trump, or defiantly opposed him, during the bitter primary. Bona fide Trump insiders can expect offers of at least $450,000 a year downtown, according to a person familiar with efforts to recruit them as lobbyists.
The latest Trump insider to head for K Street is Stuart Jolly, who was among the first employees of Trump’s campaign, for which he worked as national field director until mid-April.
Jolly has accepted a position as president of a boutique lobbying and government affairs firm called SPG, according to a message the firm sent to its clients last month, which was obtained by POLITICO.
Jolly joins former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former political director Jim Murphy as former high-ranking Trump campaign officials who recently passed up jobs in the administration and instead took their Trump ties to the influence industry.
It’s more evidence that Trump’s campaign pledge to “Drain the Swamp” is running into the realities of Washington. The president-elect got heat for packing his early transition team with lobbyists, and his Cabinet picks feature a number of high-dollar donors, including WWE co-founder Linda McMahon, Michigan billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, and former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund manager Steve Mnuchin.
And while Trump plans restrictions that look aggressive on paper – such as requiring incoming officials to agree not to lobby again for five years after leaving the administration — the ban is having the unintended effect of convincing some insiders to pass up administration jobs altogether, and instead try to immediately leverage their access as lobbyists.
One of the most stark examples came when Lewandowski last month opened a lobbying firm with another former Trump adviser, Barry Bennett. Murphy became a senior adviser on the federal policy team at the law and lobbying powerhouse BakerHostetler.
Then there are a handful of established Republican lobbyists whose stock on K Street has risen as a result of their work on or support for Trump’s campaign. David Urban, who ran Trump’s Pennsylvania operation, and David Tamasi, who was a top fundraiser for Trump, are expected to command higher rates from clients eager for advice on how to navigate Trumpworld and connections to its key players.
“There is a YUGE talent war going on for people who are connected to this administration and there are a lot of firms moving as quickly as they can to bring people on,” said Ivan Adler, a headhunter with the McCormick Group. “For a president who campaigned vociferously against the swamp, the guys who helped him get elected now are becoming the bigger alligators. That’s what happens.”
While Jolly quit Trump’s campaign in April amid a staff shakeup and joined a pro-Trump super PAC, before that he directed the Trump campaign’s ground strategy and assembled its field staff in early voting states. That means he was responsible for hiring many operatives who are now being brought into key jobs in Trump’s administration