WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump has railed against the corrupt Washington establishment in the Republican Party as he has rampaged toward the GOP's presidential nomination. Now that he can grasp it in his hands, his campaign is hiring members of the very community he castigated.
Case in point: Trump’s newest political director is political consultant and PR specialist Jim Murphy. Murphy is a perfect representation of the revolving door between the Republican Party and the influence industry representing corporate power in Washington. During election seasons, he has worked to elect Republican presidential candidates including Bob Dole and Mitt Romney, and for years worked to influence policy at one of the most powerful Washington firms.
Murphy is the former president of the Republican PR and lobbying powerhouse DCI Group. The firm is the foremost practitioner of the political dark arts in both elections and inside the Beltway. Before becoming president, “Uncle Murph,” as he reportedly referred to himself, ran the DCI Group’s grassroots division, which helped muster up actual humans to support the policies promoted by corporate clients.
During Murphy’s time at the firm, DCI helped corporations, foreign governments and political campaigns -- often controversially. DCI worked as image consultants for the brutal military junta running Myanmar in 2002. In 2004, DCI ran the pro-George W. Bush outside groups Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Progress for America. From 2000 to 2006, the firm published a “news” site called Tech Central Station that wrote stories that suited its corporate clients, with a heavy dose of content denying climate science, as desired by longtime DCI client ExxonMobil.
These were just a small handful of DCI’s most high-profile efforts, but it is unlikely that Murphy was the mastermind. “He’s not a grand strategist,” one former colleague told The Huffington Post. He was known as a good manager who knew how to pull the right levers -- something the Trump team appears to need desperately.
“In terms of operating the machinery, that's what he's good at, and that's what they need,” said the former colleague, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “If you've got a big ego, Murph's a good yes man."
Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, himself a former lobbyist, brought Murphy on to the campaign after firing his previous hire as political director, Rick Wiley. Murphy is seen as more of a steady hand, a golfer and family man, not a hard-partying big personality like Wiley. Murphy was reportedly suggested for the position by former DCI Group head lobbyist Doug Davenport. Davenport was one of two DCI Group employees who quit Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign after a furor over the firm’s prior representation of the Myanmar junta.
After Murphy rose to president, DCI Group pivoted away from lobbying toward the kind of AstroTurf campaigns -- artificially created grassroots support -- he had been in charge of in his previous position. The group ran campaigns against net neutrality and municipal broadband on behalf of AT&T and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, for lower corporate taxes through a coalition of the country's biggest corporations, and to pressure Argentina to fully pay back the hedge fund investors who purchased its distressed debt.
In 2012, Murphy left DCI to lead the Republican National Committee’s independent expenditure effort to elect Romney. Trump, of course, has called Romney a “choke artist” and “failed candidate” who "ran one of the worst campaigns, as you know, in presidential history.”
For his part, Murphy may have seen the future of his party way back in 2010.
In a blog post applauding the belligerent press conferences held by the recently elected New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, he wrote, “More than ever, my sense is that voters are first and foremost looking for leaders who are comfortable in their own skin and totally genuine in their interaction with the public. And though not the determining factor in this week’s election results, those with a 'tell-it-like-it-is' tone to their messaging did pretty well."
"So look for fewer canned answers honed by focus group analysis and more shooting from the hip," he concluded. "Should be fun to watch.”
Ryan Grim contributed reporting.
Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.
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