Forty lobbyists connected to President Trump have been hired to lobby on COVID-19 issues since the pandemic and secured over $10 billion in coronavirus relief aid for clients.
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 a new report.
It has signed at least 45 clients to work on COVID-19 issues.
Emily Felder, former director in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Office of Legislation under Trump, and Geoff Burr, former chief of staff to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, 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 today, Public Citizen requested an investigation on 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 Mnuchin 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).
Meanwhile, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, a conservative-allied group headed by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, took Covid-19 small business relief funds from the federal government, according to data released today.
The nonprofit foundation — which advocates restraint in government spending and says it works to educate taxpayers on “costly government programs” — took a loan between $150,000 and $350,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to the data disclosed by the Small Business Administration, which is overseeing approval of loans to address the economic devastation from the pandemic.
Norquist, a prominent conservative activist, is known is for pushing Republicans to take a pledge not to increase net taxes in an effort to slim the government.
The foundation is related to Americans for Tax Reform, which is allowed to participate in a greater array of political activities and engages in federal lobbying according to disclosures.
Lawmakers had expressed concern that the array of nonprofits that had access to the funds would result in relief funds going to lobbyists.
The foundation’s loan was approved in late April to support 33 jobs, according to the data.
The Trump administration released details of almost 4.9 million loans to businesses and nonprofits under the relief program, which gave out almost $521.5 billion through June 30.
The program was designed to provide small businesses with loans of as much as $10 million, based on a company’s average monthly payroll before the pandemic.