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Corporate America Rewards Trump Enablers With Cushy Jobs

in Sludge
on January 19, 2021

Corporate America is trying to distance itself from the Trump administration and its political allies after some of the president’s supporters invaded the Capitol Building. A bunch of companies have said their PACs will pause donating to members of Congress who sided with the president by objecting to the Electoral College vote count. Deutsche Bank said it would stop doing business with the president, Facebook and Twitter permanently banned him from posting, and the PGA has pulled out from an event at one of Trump’s golf courses. 

Some people in the White House are worried about a “Scarlet T” that will make it harder for them to find private sector jobs after sticking with an administration that was impeached twiced and seen as generally supportive of the Jan. 6 raid. While powerful senior figures like Jim Mattis and Gary Cohn haven’t had trouble finding jobs, lower-level staff have told reporters that their job searches aren’t going well. “Some junior staffers are incensed with the president and view themselves as being punished for sticking it out until the end of his term, according to people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg reported. 

As historically significant as the raid and second impeachment may be, the outrage will fade and Trump administration officials and staffers are likely to move on to their next perches without facing lasting professional consequences, just like the Bush administration officials who cheered the U.S. into war based on amped-up nationalism and misinformation. The stain of Trump will fade, but their connections and experience in government will remain very valuable for political influence-seeking employers.  

The Trump administration has been seen as distasteful since long before Jan. 6, but that has not stopped dozens of former Trump officials from getting hired. Research outlet LittleSis recently released a list of more than 30 former Trump staffers who have landed cushy jobs on K Street or in corporate America. 

“The special knowledge and relationships that elected representatives, government regulators, and other public officials develop in government is frequently of high value to industries seeking to influence policy,” LittleSis writes on its SWAMPED microsite. “Public officials leave public service to take positions in the private sector, and often move back and forth between the spheres. This phenomenon–called the ‘revolving door’–raises serious ethical concerns as people entrusted with safeguarding the public welfare face competing incentives from the private sector.”

Several former Trump officials already have top jobs at lobbying firms. Former assistant to the president and cabinet secretary Bill McGinley, who served in the administration from 2017 until June 2019, is now a principal at The Vogel Group. McGinley already has at least 10 clients at the firm, including renewable energy company NextEra Energy, tactical-medical products manufacturer Combat Medical Systems, and UK-based medical device company Medtrade Products. Trump’s former senior director for Africa Robin Townley is now a lobbyist with Sonoran Policy Group, a K Street firm with multiple ties to Trump’s 2016 campaign that lobbies for Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and several other foreign governments and individuals. 

Trump’s former deputy chief of staff and the executive director of his 2017 transition team Rick Dearborn is now a principal at a bipartisan government affairs consulting firm called Mindset, which until recently was known as the Cypress Group. Dearborn’s clients so far include Shell Oil Company, Verizon, and Commercial Metals Company. 

Former Trump aide Johnny DeStefano, who was a key strategist for congressional Republicans’ 2018 midterm efforts, joined vape company Juul as a policy adviser in June 2019. Juul has faced regulatory scrutiny over its advertising to children and has dramatically increased its spending on lobbying in 2019 and 2020 while facing mounting legal problems over allegations it targeted underage users. It lobbies on several bills related to preventing children from smoking or vaping. 

Former Assistant to the President Michael Dubke has returned to the government relations firm he co-founded in 2009, Black Rock Group. Dubke’s recent clients have included the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, which pays his firm $15,000 a month for strategic communications. The firm subcontracts on the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation work with Kevin Sweeney, a lobbyist who is married to Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney. 

A couple former Trump officials have landed at weapons companies. Andrea Thompson, the former under secretary of state, now leads the U.S. government international policy team at Northrop Grumman. Former defense secretary Jim Mattis reclaimed his board of directors seat at General Dynamics after he resigned from the administration following Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw troops from Syria. 

Following a stint as Trump’s senior counselor for economic initiatives, Dina Powell returned to her old employer Goldman Sachs, where she is global head of sustainability and inclusive growth.

To see where more former Trump administration figures are now working, visit SWAMPED.

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