Politics

Trump Campaign Manager, Seasoned Political Operative

Lewandowski, campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, is under a microscope. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Who is Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager accused of manhandling a female reporter trying to interview his boss, Donald Trump?  

A former lobbyist. A former aspiring politician. A former employee of the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity. In short, a seasoned campaign operative, working for a candidate with a professed disdain for such political professionals. The world is quickly getting to know Lewandowski under the glare of an ugly episode Tuesday, when Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields approached Trump at a post-election event in Florida to ask a question. Fields was grabbed from behind, an incident she described in a post on Breitbart on Thursday:  

"I wasn't called upon to ask a question during the televised press conference, but afterwards Trump wandered around, stopping at every reporter to take their questions. When he approached me, I asked him about his view on an aspect of affirmative action. Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken," she wrote. According to Washington Post reporter Ben Terris , who witnessed the incident first-hand, the person who grabbed Fields was Lewandowski.  

"As security parted the masses to give him passage out of the chandelier-lit ballroom, Michelle Fields, a young reporter for Trump-friendly Breitbart News, pressed forward to ask the Republican front-runner a question. I watched as a man with short-cropped hair and a suit grabbed her arm and yanked her out of the way. He was Corey Lewandowski, Trump's 41-year-old campaign manager.  

"Fields stumbled. Finger-shaped bruises formed on her arm," Terris wrote.  

A request for comment to Lewandowski with the Trump campaign was not returned. After Thursday night's debate, Trump told CNN that be believes Fields is making up the incident. "Everybody said nothing happened," Trump said. "Perhaps she made the story up. I think that's what happened."  

Breitbart News has since called for Lewandowski to apologize, and one of its editors, Ben Shapiro, has called on Trump to fire Lewandowski. The Trump campaign has responded by calling into question Fields' reporting and ethics. On Thursday, Lewandowski tweeted "We're Calling Bullshit on Michelle Fields" along with a link to a GotNews story accusing Fields of being an attention seeker with a questionable work ethic.  

https://twitter.com/CLewandowski_/status/708040874752655365  

The 41-year-old native of Lowell, Mass., has long been involved in politics. He is known as an outspoken, bare-knuckles operative, a style that meshes with his current boss' approach to campaigning.  

He ran for an open Massachusetts state House seat in 1994, while still a student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and lost to Democrat Tom Golden, according to the Lowell Sun . He went on to get a masters degree in political science from American University here in Washington and continued to work in campaigns and politics, interning for a member of the Massachusetts House, Democratic state Rep. Steven Panagiotakos.  

He dipped into national politics working for then-Reps. Peter Torkildsen, R-Mass., and Bob Ney, R-Ohio in the 1990s. He started working for the Republican National Committee in 2001 as the legislative political director for the Northeast region before becoming the campaign manager for the 2002 re-election campaign of then-Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H.  

Smith ended up losing that race in the primary to Republican John Sununu, the son of the the former White House chief of staff.  

From there Lewandowski went to work as the executive director for the New England Seafood Producers Association, a regional group that lobbies for its clients. That lasted a little over a year before he went to work in 2004 for Schwartz MSL, a strategic communication and engagement firm.  

He worked for Schwartz as its director of public affairs from September 2004 until July 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile . He is listed as lobbying for Schwartz on behalf of Passport Systems in 2011 on homeland security issues, according to OpenSecrets.org , which tracks lobbyist and political spending.  

In 2008, he also went to work for the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, first as East Coast regional director, then as national director of voter registration, a position he held until coming on board with Trump in January of last year.  

Trump's mantra on the campaign trail about the evils of lobbyists and the political class are legion and big applause lines for his rallies. His website prominently states : "I want to win for the people of this great country. The only people I will owe are the voters. The media, special interests, and lobbyists are all trying to stop me."  

Well, there's at least one lobbyist, or former lobbyist, that won't try to stop him. Quite the contrary. It's his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.  

Contact Dick at jasondick@rollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @jasonjdick. Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Panagiotakos' party affiliation .

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