President Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is leaving Avenue Strategies, the lobbying and consulting firm he co-founded after the election.
His departure, first reported Thursday by Bloomberg News, occurred after news stories revealed that Lewandowski had not registered as a lobbyist, even though his firm appeared to be offering potential foreign and other clients access to top administration officials.
Lewandowski and his former partner, Barry Bennett, confirmed the split Thursday evening.
“Corey was a big name and a big target,” said Bennett, also a former Trump campaign adviser. “The firm has been growing yet everything the firm did was associated with Corey, even though we have a lot of clients who Corey has not even met.”
The departure is amicable, Bennett said, noting that it was a tough fit for Lewandowski who has said he did not wish to lobby or work for foreign clients. “It is hard to not lobby and own a chunk of a lobbying firm,” Bennett said.
Last week, Politico reported that an affiliate of Avenue — Washington East West Political Strategies — had been soliciting business in Eastern Europe by offering clients access to Trump, Vice President Pence and other top administration officials. Lewandowski told Bloomberg that he had not authorized or been informed about the creation of Washington East West.
Lewandowski confirmed to The Washington Post on Thursday that he was leaving the firm but did not elaborate. He told Bloomberg that Bennett and others within the firm have used his name without authorization. Nonetheless, the reform group Public Citizen filed a request with the Justice Department to investigate whether Lewandowski had violated lobbying laws.
“The most important thing is my reputation,” Lewandowski said, adding that he wants to make clear going forward that he won’t work for foreign clients or lobby.
This week, Politico reported that Avenue had secured a contract to lobby for Citgo, the oil company owned by the leftist government of Venezuela. Lewandowski said he had no involvement with that deal.
Other Trump advisers have formed consulting and lobbying firms after the election. Lewandowski, who served as campaign manager until June of last year, had been among the most high profile. His refusal to register became controversial among other lobbyists who circulated reports that Lewandowski was pitching potential clients by boasting of his ability to reach Trump personally.