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NBC Op-Ed: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's lobbying just the tip of the iceberg for Washington influence peddlers

Along downtown Washington’s famous K Street — where you can’t travel a block without bumping into a half-dozen lobbyists — some people are struggling to understand why the unfolding saga of President Donald Trump “fixer” (and personal lawyer) Michael Cohen is such a big deal.

Associated Press: Cohen's ties to Trump, corporate clients pose questions

Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause said Cohen had plenty of wiggle room to help his corporate clients, which included AT&T and pharmaceutical giant Novartis, without running afoul of lobbying rules. Those rules, for instance, require that lobbyists register as such only if they've spent at least 20 percent of their time with a client over a three-month period doing lobbying work. "There is a whole lot of influence peddling that Michael Cohen could do without falling into the scope of federal lobby legislation," said Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the good government group. He added, though: "It's slimy. It looks like an effort to personally profit from his relationship with the president, and hide it all from the public through a shell company."

Money & Influence 05.10.2018

Dallas Morning News: Payments to Trump attorney Michael Cohen pull back curtain on AT&T's political machine

Yosef Getachew of Common Cause, a Washington-based nonpartisan group that advocates for a more ethical and open government, called AT&T's payments "another example of the power of big money to gain access and influence in all layers of government." "The swamp is only getting swampier," he said, referring to Trump's vows to "drain the swamp" on the campaign trail. Getachew said that AT&T, a company in the highly regulated telecom industry, has many matters that come before government agencies or Congress. For example, the new Trump-appointed leadership of the FCC made the call to roll back net neutrality rules. And the Justice Department made the decision to file an antitrust lawsuit over the still-pending AT&T-Time Warner merger.  "When a company is getting regulated like that, they are looking for every possible angle to influence the process," he said. "They are going to find ways to pay big money to influence those outcomes."

Swamp? What Swamp?

Million-dollar payments to his lawyer demonstrate that 16 months into the Trump presidency, the ethical bog candidate Trump promised to drain is larger and deeper than ever.

Money & Influence 05.2.2018

Nebraska Lobbyists Set Another Spending Record

$17.5 million investment represents a 26 percent jump in five years.

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