President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is slamming claims that he opened a Pennsylvania Avenue lobbying firm to cash in on his former boss' success as "absolutely disgusting," while denying the decision conflicted with Trump's campaign promises to stomp out lobbyists' influence in Washington.
"If you thought I got into this two years ago so that I could make a lot of money, then you have no idea what my core value is," Lewandowski told The Guardian in an interview for its Anywhere but Washington Series published Monday.
"If you want to make gross accusations about the president of the United States and saying he's going to be influenced by money, that's where I draw the line."
Lewandowski, along with Barry Bennett, a Ben Carson and Trump adviser, have founded their firm, Avenue Strategies, which is located within eyeshot of the White House, and told The Guardian his company works with companies doing business with the federal government.
"I think if companies have to do business with the federal government, their choice is to hire people who understand the federal bureaucracy," he said. "There's nothing wrong with that. That's what we call America."
The company represents small and large business owners, said Lewanski, telling the publication that "what I hope I can bring, if I'm fortunate enough to work for some of those companies, is to say, 'I can't guarantee you an answer of a yes or a no from the government, but I can help get you an answer quickly'."
But, Lewandowski said, that doesn't mean he's "cashing in, which is absolutely factually incorrect."
Trump's plans to limit lobbyists' influence includes a five-year prohibition on officials working as lobbyists after they leave his administration.
Last year, Lewandowski himself said in an interview with Trump's eventual chief strategist and senior counselor Steve Bannon, then in his capacity at Breitbart News, that Trump's election would end the "days of backroom deals" that include "the ruling class in Washington DC — the party bosses, the K Street crowd, the lobbyists who control all these politicians."
However, several of Trump's former staffers, like Lewandowski, are now lobbyists, notes The Guardian, including former national field director Stuart Jolly, with the Sonoran Policy Group, and former national political director James Murphy, now with the lobbying firm Baker and Hostetler.
Bennett said in an interview with Bloomberg last week that Avenue Strategies, though, is not there to "compete with the guys who are lobbying Capitol Hill," but instead, to "lobby the administration."
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