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Trump Vowed to ‘Drain the Swamp,’ but Lobbyists Are Still Thriving in It

  • July 06, 2020

Mr. Ballard, who has known Mr. Trump for 30 years and had lobbied for the Trump Organization in Florida, has been hired by a host of major companies seeking to deal with scrutiny from Mr. Trump or his administration, including General Motors, Boeing, Amazon and the Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank.

Mr. Ballard was a leading fund-raiser for Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and then for his inauguration. He is a regional vice chairman for the Republican National Committee’s fund-raising operation, and was tapped last month as a co-chairman of the committee raising funds for the recently relocated Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Fla.

Jeff Miller, who is not related to Jason Miller, had run the 2016 presidential campaign of Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas Mr. Trump later nominated as energy secretary. He helped Mr. Perry navigate the confirmation process, and registered to lobby for his first clients in Washington — including an energy company — one day before Mr. Perry was confirmed and sworn into office, then facilitated meetings for clients with Mr. Perry.

Mr. Miller has raised about $4 million for Mr. Trump’s re-election and the Republican National Committee from the beginning of last year to the end of March.

But few lobbyists consistently have more influence than Mr. Urban, who is known as the master of the subtle nudge, often delivered in private discussions. Mr. Urban declined to comment.

Mr. Trump has called Mr. Urban “one of my good friends.” And a month after the election, during which Mr. Urban ran Mr. Trump’s winning campaign in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, the pair were photographed watching the annual Army-Navy football game together in Mr. Urban’s private suite.

Mr. Urban had played football at West Point and, to this day, he carries an olive-drab green Army surplus backpack instead of a briefcase to many meetings. Last year, Mr. Trump appointed Mr. Urban to a position at his alma mater. The public displays of support from the president, which have included multiple flights aboard Air Force One and one last month aboard Marine One, bolstered Mr. Urban’s reputation as well-connected and raised his earning power on K Street.

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