A billionaire real estate mogul close to President Donald Trump has hired a powerhouse lobbying firm to work on issues related to the coronavirus stimulus package, according to government records filed Wednesday.
Thomas Barrack, through his firm Colony Capital, hired the Washington, D.C.-based Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP to lobby Congress on “[i]ssues related to COVID-19 relief packages,” according to the filing.
Colony Capital inked the deal on March 20, days before Trump signed a $2.2 trillion bill to provide relief to taxpayers and businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. CNBC reported Colony Capital’s hiring of the lobbying firm Tuesday.
Barrack has in recent weeks called for relief to help the mortgage-backed securities market to stave off what he said will be a meltdown of the commercial real state lending system due to the economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a March 22 post at Medium, he said a “domino effect” in the real estate system that would hurt home owners, landlords, developers and hotel operators.
He encouraged lawmakers to provide up to $500 billion to the Treasury Department “to support programs or facilities for the purpose of providing liquidity to the financial system including the purchase of obligations from issuers and secondary markets.”
Barrack has argued that one solution is to allow businesses and homeowners to delay making rent and mortgage payments until the pandemic subsides.
“All we need today to make this work is a time out,” Barrack said in a CNBC interview on March 25.
“What everybody needs, what the small businesses need, what the employers need, what the person who’s paying rent needs, what the person who’s paying the mortgage on their house or their building needs is simply a time out,” said Barrack, who is reportedly in frequent contact with Trump.
“The small- and medium-sized businesses mostly have two issues: rent and expenses,” he continued. “You need to give them a forbearance, stop their rent and interest, let them keep those employees hired as a result of that and look at it in 90 days. If that doesn’t happen it’s going to be chaos.”