Forty lobbyists connected to President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE have been hired to lobby on COVID-19 issues since the pandemic and secured over $10 billion in coronavirus relief aid for clients, according to a new report from progressive watchdog group Public Citizen.
The 40 lobbyists represented at least 150 clients, 27 of which received $10.5 billion in aid collectively, and 14 of which are companies working on vaccines, therapeutics or tests. The lobbyists either worked on Trump’s campaign, inaugural committee, transition team or in the administration.
Brownstein Hyatt Faber Schreck is one of the firms mentioned in the report. It has signed at least 45 clients to work on COVID-19 issues.
Emily Felder, former director in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’s Office of Legislation under Trump, and Geoff Burr, former chief of staff to Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoSaluting FOIA on its birthday House passes bill to strengthen authority of federal watchdogs Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' MORE, are among the lobbyists at the firm working on some of these contracts.
Trump issued an executive order when he took office prohibiting former administration officials from lobbying the agency or office where they were worked for five years and prohibiting former political appointees from lobbying the administration during Trump’s time in office.
“We are confident that our lobbyists are in compliance with all lobbying rules and applicable prohibitions and did not violate their Trump Administration pledge. Further, none of these individuals have lobbied the Executive Branch. These individuals are permitted to lobby the Senate or House and the LDAs reflect that,” a Brownstein spokesperson told The Hill.
In a letter to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and other agencies on Monday, Public Citizen requested an investigation into whether five former Trump administration officials, including Felder and Burr, violated the Trump ethics pledge during the coronavirus pandemic.
The other three officials mentioned in the letter are Courtney Lawrence, a former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services who now works at Cigna; Shannon McGahn, a former adviser to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE who now works for the National Association of Realtors (NAR); and Jordan Stoick, a former Treasury senior adviser who now works at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
“NAR takes its lobbying disclosure and ethics requirements seriously. NAR and its employees are in full compliance with the LDA’s post government employment restrictions as well as the Trump ethics pledge,” a spokesperson for NAR told The Hill.
NAM general counsel Linda Kelly said the claim Stoick violated the ethics pledge was misleading and irresponsible.
"Jordan Stoick has never lobbied Treasury during his time at the NAM. The NAM carefully adheres to the legal and ethical rules regulating lobbying activity, including ensuring that its employees comply with all applicable prohibitions on contacting their former employers," she told The Hill in a statement.
The White House and Cigna did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the report.
The report mentions that Brian Ballard, former chairman of Trump Victory, was hired by American Health Associates, which provides mobile laboratory services to nursing homes. His firm, Ballard Partners, did not provide comment to The Hill on the report.
Robert Grand of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, who was on Trump’s inaugural committee, was hired by Envigo RMS Holding Corp, which works on research tools for the coronavirus, the report noted.
“Are they also working on a story about [Joe] Biden supporters who are lobbying?” Grand told The Hill in response to the report.
Public Citizen had no comment in response to The Hill on this question.
Jessica Tocco of A10 Associates, who worked on Trump’s transition, was hired by GreyScan, which is developing a mobile COVID-19 detection device, the report noted. Tocco had no comment on the report.
Aaron Szabo of CGCN Group, who was senior counsel for the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality under Trump, was hired by Hazmat TSDF Inc., which is working on issues related to cleanup of coronavirus materials.
CGCN told The Hill that Szabo was a career White House staffer and worked under Presidents Trump and Obama.
The report also mentions other lobbyists hired to work on coronavirus issues, including McGuire Woods Consulting’s Robert Wasinger, who was director of Senate and gubernatorial outreach for the 2016 Trump campaign; S-3’s Robert Collins, who worked with the White House on Supreme Court Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote Locked and Loaded: Supreme Court is ready for a showdown on the Second Amendment Justices weigh request for information on CIA's post-9/11 torture program MORE’s confirmation; and American Continental Group’s David Urban, who is a member of the Trump 2020 advisory committee.
Miller Strategies’s Jeff MillerJefferson (Jeff) Bingham MillerPortland names pedestrian overpass after Ned Flanders Congress should explore extending certain VA benefits to Afghan allies Don't blame veterans for Afghanistan withdrawal, and don't forget about them MORE, vice chair of Trump’s inaugural committee; Avenue Strategies’s Barry Bennett, a former senior adviser for Trump’s 2016 campaign; and Rich Feuer Anderson LLC’s Jared Sawyer, a former Treasury Department deputy assistant secretary under Trump, were also mentioned in the report.
These lobbyists did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.