Politics

GOP Lobbyist Backs ‘Free the Delegates’ After Butting Heads with Trump

Convention coup remains last best hope

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is a "total control freak," according to GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lobbyist Jack Burkman Friday is scheduled to open up his Northern Virginia home to what he says is a mounting number of Republican loyalists eager to bankroll a last-minute challenge to presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.  

“You have no idea how many people want to write checks against him,” Burkman said.  

The conservative firebrand counted himself among the party faithful desperately searching for a way to wrest control of the GOP away from Trump between now and the nominating convention in Cleveland.  

[ GOP Delegate Would Rather Be Arrested Than Vote for Trump ]  

Although he publicly denounced Trump early on, Burkman insists that once the real estate mogul trounced the competition in the primaries, he, like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, reluctantly fell in line.  

“I tried to be a good Republican and support him,” Burkman said.  

As a show of good faith, Burkman said he offered to host a high-profile fundraiser for the first-time candidate.  

A face-to-face meeting was arranged. Burkman floated the idea to Trump — and things immediately went south.  

“We found out that he’s a total control freak,” Burkman said.  

According to Burkman, Trump demanded to be in charge of everything. When Burkman objected, he said Trump’s lawyers hit him with a “long threatening letter.”  

That proved to be the final straw.  

“Like me, you probably wanted to believe that there has to be something behind the character you see on the screen,” Burkman said of Trump’s legendary bravado. “But there’s not. It’s the rogue on stage.”  

Burkman is now throwing his support behind “Free The Delegates,” a countereffort interested in liberating political operatives attending the upcoming convention from strictly adhering to the outcome of their state primaries.  

[ Panel Could Rewrite the Rules for GOP Convention ]  

Unbinding the said delegates could open up a path for a former contender to still seek the nomination, though Trump has vowed to combat any procedural maneuvering against him.  

Just who could theoretically topple Trump remains unclear.  

“That’ll happen in the next seven days,” Burkman predicted when asked about the emergence of a potential challenger.  

Burkman, for one, stands ready to fight until the very last vote is cast.  

“I’ll be at the convention … working with Free the Delegates to make sure Donald Trump is not the nominee,” he said.  

Contact Rojas at warrenrojas@rollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @WARojas

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