Opinion: Meet the ‘Trump Whisperer’

A cadre of corporate lobbyists pulls Trump’s strings.

The Donald is in a funk. He’s been outsmarted by an inert virus, his poll numbers are tanking, and even his demagogic pep rallies are falling flat.

So, who to turn to for political comfort? Why of course — Trump’s true loyalists: His diehard cadre of Washington’s corporate lobbyists. I don’t merely mean those elites of K Street and Wall Street who dominate his Cabinet. He also has a “kitchen cabinet.” Operating out of public view, it’s an unofficial collection of highly paid influence peddlers who’re still practicing the dark art of bending government power to the wishes of selfish corporate interests. Each of them is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by brand-name clients — from Amazon to Walgreens — to get favors from Trump. In turn, these little-known lobbyists have now adopted The Donald as their chief client, funneling millions of special-interest dollars into his re-election campaign, with the understanding that he’ll keep channeling tax breaks, regulatory exemptions and public dollars to the corporate donors. It’s the Washington Money-Go-Round, merrily corrupting our government.

Who are these no-name corrupters? David Urban is one, considered the best-connected corporate huckster in the Trump swamp. An old college pal of a couple of cabinet officials, he’s become such a close buddy of Donald himself that he’s known as a “Trump Whisperer,” able to work around the furies that rage in that strange orange head. Such cozy ties to the top mean Urban gets his calls returned, an invaluable asset for his favor-seeking clientele, including Raytheon, Goldman Sachs, Bayer, Nike and Toyota. They, in turn, have made Urban rich, paying the once-obscure lobbyist more than $25 million since the Trumpeteers took office.

So, Washington lobbyists like Urban are now the top strategists and fundraisers for Trump 2020, hoping to get another four-year ride on the corrupt Money-Go-Round.

[pullquote-1] Meanwhile, the PR departments of every brand-name corporation are running slick ads nobly proclaiming: “We’re all in this together!”

But their lobbying departments are ignobly using the public’s focus on the health crisis as cover for selfishly grabbing government favors. One of the grabbiest special interests are well-off corporate and parochial private schools. For years, these private entities have been lobbying relentlessly to make taxpayers finance their schools, even though they usually have an ideological or religious curriculum, and some even share the extremist view that public schools should be eliminated.

That extremist nook is where Betsy DeVos resides. She’s an heiress and funder of far-right-wing causes. Chosen by Trump to run America’s education department, she’s been trying to run our schools straight into private hands… but with little success. Then, along came the COVID-19 federal relief package, including funds to help meet the education needs of low-income students in hard-hit public schools.

Hallelujah! shouted DeVos, grabbing the virus as a way to advance her agenda. In May, she issued an edict requiring local public school districts to divert millions of relief dollars from their disadvantaged students, forcing them to share their allotment with even the richest private schools.

Officials in New Orleans, for example, note that under her formula, 77 percent of its allotment would end up in private hands. Luckily, her “order” does not have the force of law, and public schools are fighting back. For information and action, go to the National Coalition for Public Education: NCPEcoalition.org.