Trump’s Washington Proves Lucrative for His Top Lobbyist Bundler

July 25th 2019

Politics ( Damian Gadal )

Politics (Damian Gadal)

By Karl Evers-Hillstrom

Center For Responsive Politics

In Washington D.C., some lobbyists like to raise money to make money.

It’s been a successful strategy for Jeff Miller, who raised more than $1 million for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign from April through June as the only lobbyist to report bundling for the president so far. Miller’s lobbying firm has reaped the rewards of the Trump connection by attracting a number of powerful clients paying up to send their message straight to the Oval Office.

Miller Strategies took in $2.1 million in the second quarter of 2019, up from nearly $1.7 million through the first three months of the year. After barely registering on the K Street radar in 2017, the firm broke out last year when it made $5.2 million. It’s now on pace to smash that number.

Standing out among Miller’s new clients is Amazon, which paid the firm $20,000 after registering on July 17. The last minute contract came as Amazon angled for an estimated $10 billion Department of Defense contract to build a cloud services program.

Trump has publicly expressed concern about the idea of Jeff Bezos’ company winning the government contract, even saying he might step into the bidding process between Amazon and Microsoft. Amazon could be hoping Miller can change the president’s mind, dispatching him to lobby the office of Vice President Mike Pence.

Amazon is one of many new clients to sign up with Miller this year — and a number of his clients increased their spending with his lobbying firm in the second quarter.

Ligado Networks, a satellite communications that is pushing the Federal Communications Commission to allow it to roll out next-generation 5G technology, increased its spending from $30,000 to $90,000 over the last three-month period. The company reported lobbying the offices of the president and vice president on “telecommunications issues as they relate to 5G.”

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer tripled its spending with Miller to $60,000 last quarter, up from $20,000 when it first registered with the firm in April, as it reported lobbying on drug pricing issues.

The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, an Oregon tribe that regained thousands of acres of land under a bipartisan bill signed by Trump last year, signed up with Miller in May and spent $20,000. A federal agency is currently reviewing a proposed pipeline that would run through part of the tribe’s territory.

Another new client, mining and steel magnate Ira Rennert’s Renco Group, reported paying $60,000 to lobby the president, vice president and Congress on “long term mine remediation efforts” at mining properties owned by the company.

SAS Institute, a North Carolina data software company that receives tens of millions of dollars from government contracts, increased its spending to $50,000 from $10,000 as it lobbied the president’s office on the issue of federal data programs.

Through July, Miller retained almost all of his top clients, including major lobbying players such as Altria, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and private detention contractor CoreCivic.

Miller, a former aide to Energy Secretary and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and vice finance chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, made inroads with California Republicans before making his way to Washington.

He the only lobbyist so far this cycle to disclose bundling for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that splits big-dollar contributions between the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee. He reported raising more than $1 million from April through June for the committee, which raked in $29 million from donors giving more than $200. Committees must file bundled contribution reports when they receive two or more bundled contributions totaling more than $18,700 from a lobbyist or PAC controlled or established by a lobbyist.

Besides Miller himself, Miller Strategies employs several former White House aides. Trump-tied lobbying firms are among the biggest winners under the Trump administration — and some established lobbying firms have hired those with a connection to the president.

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