David Urban Won’t Drain the Swamp

Tommy Behnke Freelance Writer
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The swamp is about to get a little more crowded — that is, unless the Trump administration begins tightening the vetting process over its White House job applications.

As a result of recent resignations and a potential administrative overhaul, high-profile lobbyist David Urban is reportedly being considered for multiple senior positions on Pennsylvania Avenue. If the current administration cares the least bit about halting crony capitalism, then it should quell these whispers by ensuring that this pay-to-play political operative permanently stays on the far end of the White House’s south fence sidewalk.

Urban, who, among other duties, served as an aide in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island for the Trump campaign, has been employed in some of the worst parts of Washington. He is not concerned about implementing conservative values; he is only concerned about padding his bottom line, often funding both sides of political issues to do so.

It is no coincidence that Urban was a former Chief of Staff to Sen. Arlen Specter. To this day, Specter’s office has converted more staffers to lobbyists than any other congressional office. Why? Because during his time in Congress, Specter served as nothing more than a Washington cash cow. Before switching to the Democratic Party in 2009, Specter collected more money from K-Street than any other Republican. The monetary interests of his staff — particularly Urban, the captain of the ship — was merely a reflection of the lack of morals and values that Specter had.

After his stunt with Specter, Urban went on to work for the American Continental Group (ACG), a lobbying firm that is pay-to-play in every sense of the phrase. Of the 21 staffers listed on its website, 9 have worked for key Democratic policymakers. While there is nothing wrong with bipartisanship, the problem becomes apparent when one takes a closer look at the names — Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, and Dick Durbin, among others. ACG does not care about principles; it will partner itself with anyone — Republican or Democrat — that will help to pad its bottom line.

With ACG, Urban often engages in unethical practices, including lobbying on both sides of political issues. The firm’s speciality is intellectual property, and Urban was “intimately involved” with the creation of the America Invents Act (AIA), while at the same time lobbying against that same legislation on behalf of USIJ. This mercenary has even heavily advocated passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) for Time Warner — the parent company of CNN — as he was playing up the other side in his role with the Trump campaign.

Urban donates to politicians of all ideologies, including Democrats like Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah, Bob Casey, Chris Coons, and Patrick Leahy, just to help his business. A large majority of them represent the Philadelphia region, where most of Urban’s client’s come from. Of course, the political operative sees nothing wrong with how he funds and advises both sides of political issues.  “I’m an advocate,” he says. “That doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything my clients do or say.”

Although this practice is not morally excusable for anyone, it is in especially bad taste for a

potential White House staffer. While the profits from his special interests will be put on hold for a little while, Urban will still undoubtedly be looking out for them behind the scenes so that once his White House tenure is completed, he will receive even higher returns on his investments. Perhaps he will even contribute to the internal administrative leaks as a way of furthering his business interests.

As Jeff Billman of Philly Magazine wrote in 2011, David Urban “[uses] his connections and insights not in a Mr. Smith sort of way, but to help the already powerful become just a little more powerful.” If he gets a job in the White House, this money-grubber will be working to advance his financial interests with our tax dollars — and that’s not something that anyone should tolerate.