Corey Lewandowski is set to be paid nearly half a million dollars by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by the end of the year, with almost a quarter of his compensation coming after the controversial political operative was ousted in June as campaign manager.
Lewandowski, who is now a paid commentator on CNN, collected at least $415,000 in salary, bonuses and severance from the Trump campaign between April 2015 and August of this year, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance filings. Campaign officials said he will continue receiving his $20,000 monthly pay as severance until the end of the year, which would give him a total of $495,000 over two years.
His compensation appears to be higher than that of his counterparts, though a direct comparison is difficult because Lewandowski is paid a flat fee through a limited-liability company rather than a campaign paycheck.
After taxes and deductions, Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, has earned between $7,000 and $11,000 a month this cycle, according to federal filings. He has been paid a total of $141,704 in salary from April 2015 through August of this year.
In the 2012 presidential race, Matt Rhoades, who ran GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign, earned between $12,050 and $13,750 a month after deductions, for a total of $312,884 in salary and bonuses, campaign finance reports show. President Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, was paid about $10,000 a month after deductions, earning $280,331 by the end of the cycle.
In an interview, Lewandowski defended his compensation, saying he had effectively been managing a “$60 million corporation.” Unlike many political consultants, he said, he never sought to get paid a commission on the money the campaign spent on media or mail.
“That pales in comparison to what everyone else is making,” he said. “I don’t take a percentage of anything. I get a flat fee.”
CNN has faced criticism for giving Lewandowski a regular platform while he is drawing large severance from the Trump campaign. Network officials have said his payments are publicly disclosed when he appears on the air.
Lewandowski said the severance does not conflict with his role at CNN, saying the arrangement has “been widely known.”
It is difficult to measure Lewandowski’s pay against that of his counterparts in the GOP primary contest — such as Jeff Roe, Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign manager, and Danny Diaz, who led former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s campaign — because they were paid through consulting firms that provided other services such as ad placement and voter outreach. But he appears to be making roughly the “middle six figures” that Mike Murphy, a GOP strategist who led a pro-Bush super PAC, told The Post he earned during the primaries.
In an interview in March, when he was still campaign manager, Lewandowski said he negotiated a set salary with Trump so his pay would be transparent.
“From the beginning, my philosophy was, I don’t want to do it the same way it’s always been done,” he said.
He recalled, “What I said was: ‘There are other people out there who will make a lot more money off of this campaign. If you want to hire somebody else who is going to take two points off the back end of every media buy, they’ll make millions of dollars potentially off of you.’ I said, ‘I don’t think that’s fair.’ ”
Lewandowski’s large salary spotlights the unorthodox operation of the Trump campaign, which was riven for much of the year by a power struggle between the hard-charging Lewandowski and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who left in August.
One lingering mystery is why several Manafort allies did not appear to receive any pay from the campaign, based on Federal Election Commission filings. They include pollster Tony Fabrizio; Rick Gates, who served as a deputy to Manafort; and Michael Caputo, a former communications adviser. Rick Wiley, who briefly served as political director in the spring and is now a consultant for the Republican National Committee, was not paid by the campaign until last month.
Trump campaign officials did not respond to requests for comment.
In a brief interview Friday, Manafort said he did not know why some top aides such as Gates were not compensated.
“I think they were paid — at least they were supposed to be,” he said. Manafort, a longtime lobbyist who resigned amid controversy over his work in Ukraine, said he did not personally cover their salaries.
Fabrizio’s polling firm did receive $273,378 in July, federal filings show, but not from the campaign. Instead, the payment came from the Committee on Arrangements for the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Fabrizio did not respond to requests for comment about what services he provided the convention committee.
Overall, Trump’s operation is much leaner than Clinton’s, with 131 staff members on the payroll in August compared with her 789, FEC reports show.
But the payroll figures do not provide the full scope of the size of his staff. At least 10 of the campaign’s state directors are being paid through their personal consulting firms, rather than as full-time employees, an examination of the filings shows.
In addition, two top Trump campaign officials are being compensated through their firms, which have recently emerged as top vendors to the campaign.
Giles-Parscale, a San Antonio-based firm whose president, Brad Parscale, serves as the Trump campaign’s digital director, has received $23.6 million for Web development, digital consulting and online ads, including $11.1 million in August alone.
The Trump campaign also paid $830,651 last month for media production, ad placement and communications consulting to Jamestown Associates, the Washington-based media firm of Jason Miller, a senior communications adviser.
Karen Tumulty contributed to this report.