GOP Lobbyist to Host Fundraiser for Rick Gates

Ex-Trump campaign aide pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse on Feb. 23 after a hearing. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse on Feb. 23 after a hearing. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Posted February 28, 2018 at 5:04am

The swamp looks out for its own.

A Republican lobbyist said Tuesday he was organizing a fundraiser next month to help pay the legal bills of Rick Gates, the former K Streeter who pleaded guilty last week in the expanding special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Jack Burkman, a federal lobbyist registered to represent numerous clients, said he aimed to raise $250,000 from fellow lobbyists, clients and friends at the March 20 event to be held at a Holiday Inn in Rosslyn, Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington.

“Rick’s a great guy — he’s well-known in Republican circles,” Burkman said. “He has a wife and four young children.”

Gates, a business partner of former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty last week to lying to federal investigators. He had previously been indicted on multiple charges including failure to register as a foreign agent. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has also looked into unregistered lobbying work for foreign entities allegedly done by Gates and Manafort.

Gates, like Manafort, served as a high-level aide to the Trump presidential campaign. Manafort has maintained his innocence.

Watch: Intelligence Officials Aware of Russian Activity Aimed at 2018 Elections

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Burkman said the fundraiser for Gates’ legal defense fund, known as Defending American Rights Legal Fund, would be open to the media. He said Gates, who is 45, has less money than Manafort, 68, to fend off the legal charges. Even with Gates’ plea deal, Burkman said, the legal bills are likely to mount.

“The work for Rick is just beginning,” Burkman said. “When you’re cooperating, you need counsel as intensively. … There’s no letup ever.”

He said Gates’ legal tab could exceed $2 million.

Burkman declined to say how much money he helped raise with a December fundraiser to help defray Gates’ legal bills. That event drew criticism from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the case, according to Washingtonian magazine.

“Burkman believes certain aspects and motions of the D.C. court system so far were made to intentionally harm and harass Gates,” a news release announcing the fundraiser reads. “He feels that, regardless of the court’s decision, Gates’ family needs assistance with legal costs.”

Burkman’s recent lobbying clients through his firm JM Burkman & Associates include DST Swiss Sales and Service Trust, Pain Research Centers of America and health care company SkyMedicus, according to congressional lobbying disclosures.