Top Indian-American Trump aide quits to join lobbying firm

Raj Shah, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary and Deputy Assistant to the President. (Photo shows Shah on voting day 2016, courtesy Raj Shah)

The Deputy Assistant to President Donald Trump, Raj Shah, has quit the White House to join a lobbying firm and co-lead a division alongside a veteran Democratic operative.

Shah, 33, who served as principal deputy press secretary, and was formerly the communications director at the Republican National Committee, has joined Ballard Media Group, a division of Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm which describes itself as “one of Washington’s fastest growing” federal government relations firms and the premier firm in Florida.”

In a Jan. 14, press release, Ballard said Shah would be leading its “new venture” as a partner, along with James “Jamie” Rubin, who joined the firm last year.  This new Ballard Media Group, the company said, plans to be  “a bipartisan, full service, multidisciplinary strategic communications division that brings together the talents of professionals with unrivaled real-world expertise.”

“I’m excited to join Brian, Jamie and the top-notch team to launch Ballard Media Group,” Shah is quoted saying in the press release. “Companies, organizations and industries today face increasing scrutiny from an unrelenting media landscape. Our team, with years of proven results, will provide the strategic communications clients need to navigate these challenges and successfully deliver their message to the right audience,” Shah added.

Shah was the communications director at the Republican National Committee and the author of a white paper on how to defeat Hillary Clinton, before he joined the Trump White House. Shah oversaw strategy and communications for the White House’s successful efforts  to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, the firm noted.

In an interview with this correspondent soon after President Trump announced his appointment, Shah said he was “thrilled” and “humbled” (

As the White House principal deputy press secretary, Shah frequently briefed the press, handled crisis communications and policy rollouts, and according to Ballard, took a leading role in preparing the President and senior officials for media appearances.

At Ballard, “Shah will serve clients consistent with post-government restrictions on the activities of senior White House officials and political appointees of the Trump Administration,” the press release said.

Rubin, has worked as the senior foreign policy adviser to four Democratic presidential campaigns and as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in President Bill Clinton’s administration, and chief spokesman of the State Department for then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Since then, he has also served as senior foreign policy advisor in Democratic presidential campaigns, been a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, and adjunct professor at Columbia University.

“These times call for collaboration and strategic thinking across every discipline and, working with Raj, our team will provide our clients with unique insights and value,” Rubin said in his statement. “For organizations looking to navigate an ever-changing landscape and communicate at the intersection of policy and politics, they need to look no further,” he added.

“With increasing frequency, we are asked for sophisticated media relations and public affairs counsel beyond our lobbying practice. We are assembling this team, led by Raj and Jamie, to provide the same results in the communications and public relations arena that we have developed a reputation for providing in the lobbying world,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s president and founder.

During his tenure at the RNC, Shah spoke about his life journey to News India Times in 2015, noting that he joined the Republican National Committee fresh out of college and rose to the position of Deputy Director of Communications and Research Director.

Born and brought up in an apolitical and religious Jain family of Democrats in Connecticut, Shah said then that 9/11 changed the trajectory of his future. (See previous article at

“I was politically apathetic but that got me interested in geopolitical issues and domestic politics. After 9/11, I was reading everything I could get my hands on,” Shah told News India Times in the 2015 interview. He admitted he had become somewhat of a junkie and loves the world of political machinations. “There were a couple of instances when I considered going into PR, or leaving campaigns and electoral politics but …” he said then.

Now, Shah appears to have jumped into the fray in the PR world.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here