Mike Pence has turned the office of vice president into a hangout for lobbyists. Meanwhile, money is being kicked back to Pence's political kingdom.
Mike Pence has converted the office of vice president into a pit stop for lobbyists seeking to influence the Trump administration across multiple federal agencies.
The Washington Post reports that nearly twice as many companies and other special interests used lobbyists to contact the vice president's office in the Trump administration's first year compared to the Bush and Obama administrations.
Records show 236 lobbying clients contacting Pence's office in 2017, an increase of 96.67 percent from the 120 who visited Vice President Joe Biden in 2009.
With Pence in charge, now the vice president's office has an open-door policy for major drug companies and energy firms who hope to have industry regulation set aside.
Mega-corporations were invited in to chat with Pence about sweetheart deals on their taxes. They got their wishes in the Republican tax legislation that passed.
The Post notes that Pence has created "a feeling of extended family," since many of the lobbyists are his "friends, donors and former staffers."
There are also kickbacks involved in Pence's scheme.
Lobbyist Bob Grand billed his corporate clients $3.3 million for access to Trump. So now, in turn, Grand co-hosted a Washington fundraiser for Pence's brother Greg, who is currently running for Congress.
Pence has also flown around the country with Grand on flights paid for by Pence's super PAC and the Trump 2020 re-election campaign.
Everybody in "the swamp" benefits from the arrangement.
The networking with lobbyists as the administration writes legislation and regulation to benefit corporate clients also has implications for Pence's shadow presidential campaign.
For months he has set up an operation — including a PAC separate from Trump — that would allow him to be a viable presidential candidate should Trump fall from power.
The lobbyists and clients he has cultivated through the office of vice president have already donated to Trump affiliated PACs, and it would be simple for Pence to use the existing relationship to steer them in his favor.
Pence has repeatedly tried to distance himself from Trump's scandals (even though he's directly connected to them) so his shadow campaign — complete with well-financed lobbyist support — would be ready to go if something happens to Trump.
But Pence and his office are just an extension of the corruption embraced by Trump, not anything different.
The close relationship, benefitting Trump and Pence politically while rewarding lobbyists through the perversion of government, is "the swamp" exemplified.