Michael cohen’s company shows a different kind of swamp under trump – big4all.org electricity font

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Trump’s allies are advising clients on the administration in exchange for lucrative contracts using limited liability corporations, without ever registering as lobbyists. Both have worked for a president who ran on a “drain the swamp” message and repeatedly bashed lobbyists and wealthy donors.

Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen received payments totaling $4.4 million from various companies to Essential Consultants, LLC, which he created less than a month before the 2016 election and used to pay off adult film actress Stormy Daniels, according to detailed allegations made by Daniels’ lawyer Tuesday evening.

Two of those companies, AT&T and Novartis, have confirmed the payments. “Essential Consultants was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration,” AT&T said in a statement. “They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.”

Brendan Fischer, who works on ethics and campaign finance laws for Campaign Legal Center, said it’s hard to know how many of these LLCs exist because of lack of disclosures and to assess the kind of work Cohen was doing without the companies disclosing the contracts.

Corey Lewandowksi, Trump’s former campaign manager, is the president and CEO of Lewandowski Strategic Advisors, LLC, which is described as “a government and public affairs consulting firm.” Lewandowski has insisted to several publications that he’s not a lobbyist.

And in general, the number of unregistered lobbyists, working as consultants or advisers, has been on the rise. If someone spends at least 20 percent of his or her time lobbying for a single client, under federal law, the person has to register as a lobbyist. But given the increased negative connotations associated with lobbyists, reports show that fewer people are registering. Major lobbying firms and companies in recent years have also been hiring former members of Congress, who have to abide by a “cooling-off” period and can’t immediately lobby, as advisers.

“In addition to questions about the legality of these payments, there is one other huge category of questions that is presumably beyond the purview of Novartis and AT&T: Did other large companies make similar payments to Cohen, his shell companies or others in the Trump orbit?,” the group says in a press release.

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for watchdog group Public Citizen, told BuzzFeed News that given the high turnover within the administration, more of these types of shell companies could be operating under the radar by former White House officials.

The Trump administration announced new proposals — including a ban on registered lobbyists from working in the administration — after the election to keep up it’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” but it has hardly enforced them. Some believe the policies could have had the opposite effect of increasing the number of unregistered lobbyists among Trump allies who might want to work in the administration in the future.

It also received a payment for $750,000 for “public relations” work from a nonprofit group called Wellspring Committe e that gave the bulk of its grants to another group called Judicial Crisis Network that pushed for the confirmation of now Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, according to tax documents and reporting by the Center for Responsive Politics.