Kellyanne Conway Valued Polling Firm at $5 Million, Filing Shows

  • Trump adviser earned more than $800,000 during 2016 campaign
  • White House released financial disclosures of staffers Friday

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, said her consulting firm was worth as much as $5 million, with clients including a super-PAC funded by conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer, according to financial disclosures released Friday by the White House.

Conway earned $800,726 last year via her firm, Polling Company/Woman Trend, which had more than 70 clients over the past two years, according to the disclosure. The clients included conservative political groups funded by Chicago Cubs owner Joseph Ricketts and billionaires Charles and David Koch.

Ethics rules enacted by the Trump administration require appointees to recuse themselves from matters involving former clients for two years. The Polling Company/Woman Trend said Jan. 20 that Conway had resigned from the company.

Overall, Conway disclosed assets owned by her and her husband, George Conway III, worth between $10 million and $39.3 million. Conway’s firm earned $1.1 million from the Trump campaign in 2016 and $328,000 from Make America Number 1, a super-PAC initially formed to back the candidacy of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Mercer, a hedge fund operator and prolific political contributor, donated $4.5 million to the super political action committee in 2016.

Advocacy Group

Conway and another key White House adviser, Steve Bannon, have served as longtime advisers to Mercer. The Polling Company lists Reclaim New York, an advocacy group set up by Mercer’s family to promote transparency and tax cuts, as a client on its website.

Reclaim New York shares an address with Cambridge Analytica, a data and analytics firm that, like Conway’s firm, worked for both the Trump campaign and Make America Number 1, according to filings made with the FEC. Conway served as the super-PAC’s president until July 2016, when she joined the Trump campaign as a senior adviser. Bannon reported receiving more than $125,000 in consulting fees for work on behalf of Cambridge Analytica on his disclosure, which covered 2016 and part of this year.

Conway played a central role in Trump’s run for the White House. She took over as campaign manager in August when her predecessor, Paul Manafort, stepped down amid sinking poll numbers and controversy over his past work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Bannon was named the campaign’s CEO at the same time.

The Polling Company continued to bill the super-PAC after Conway joined Trump’s campaign, which paid her through the firm. In October, the Campaign Legal Center, a group that supports tighter restrictions on money in politics, filed a complaint with the FEC claiming that the arrangement violated federal election law, which bars candidates from coordinating with super-PACs that support them. The use of a common vendor can be a violation of those rules. FEC rules bar the agency from commenting on pending enforcement matters.

Employee Firewall

Conway said at the time that her company had done surveys for the super-PAC and there was a firewall between employees working for the Trump campaign and those working for Make America Number 1. The super-PAC made its last payment to her firm in late August.

Conway was a frequent on-air spokeswoman for Trump, a role that she has continued since joining the White House. She was criticized in February when she offered a “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line during an interview on Fox News Channel. Members of both major parties said the remarks ran afoul of federal ethics laws, which bar government employees from using their positions to endorse products.

The White House chose to counsel Conway rather than discipline her, which could have included reprimand, suspension, demotion or removal from office. Walter Shaub, OGE’s director, criticized that decision, saying that it “risks undermining the ethics program.”

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