Michael Cohen was paid many times more than Novartis paid other lobbyists on their payroll, according to a report by Stat News.
Not only that, but Cohen was paid for doing...nothing. Novartis has published several iterations of their statement confirming they paid him, but they've never wavered from their core message: They paid Michael Cohen for some unspecified insight into the Trump administration, realized he could not deliver, and paid him anyway under the contract because they feared angering Donald Trump.
Via Open Secrets, here is a chart of what Novartis paid individual lobbying firms in 2017:
There is nothing close to $1.2 million on that list. Nothing even touches it.
Stat News notes that this is so outside the norm that they could not find ANY instance where a single lobbyist received a payment that high.
In fact, there weren’t any contracts under which an individual company paid a single lobbying firm more than $1.2 million in 2017. The record-setter was PricewaterhouseCoopers, which brought in $950,000 to represent the Alliance for Competitive Taxation in 2017, according to a Politico analysis of 2017 filings.
So we're back to this: What was Novartis expecting for that money, and to whom did it go, if not straight into the pocket of Michael Cohen? Congress should be investigating, but as long as Republicans are in charge, it won't.
“Mr. Cohen was hired as a consultant and not as a lobbyist,” a Novartis spokesman told Stat News. “The consulting fees Novartis agreed with Mr. Cohen and Essential Consultants were in line with market terms for consultancy and advisory.“
In reviewing Novartis' requirements for transparent lobbying (PDF), it seems clear why he was NOT hired as a lobbyist.
Lobbying should not be misused for any corrupt or illegal purposes, or to improperly influence any decision. Relevant functions (e.g., Public & Government Affairs) provide guidance on how lobbying should be conducted based on the values of transparency, honesty and integrity.
Shall we then assume the term "consultancy and advisory" in the Trump era is the equivalent of "pay to play" practices of opacity and corruption?
In 2016, the swamp was contained. In 2018, it's out of control, growing, and the ones populating it occupy the top offices in this land. If this is not cause to toss these swamp monsters into exile in 2018, I don't know what is.