The Powerful Lobbyist Behind Kevin McCarthy: Jeff Miller

Mr. Miller declined to be interviewed. But he said in a statement that he “worked hard with Speaker McCarthy’s team during the speaker’s race because he’s my friend” and because Mr. McCarthy “knows how to build consensus around an agenda and then how to implement it.”

Mr. Miller added, “I just want to be known as a guy who works hard for my clients and does right by my friends,” adding that “everything else is just noise.”

Mr. McCarthy also declined to be interviewed. In a statement, Drew Florio, a spokesman for him, said the speaker and Mr. Miller are “lifelong friends,” and credited the lobbyist with playing “a key role in aiding Speaker McCarthy’s political fund-raising operation,” while stressing that his efforts were “on a volunteer basis.”

But the blurriness of the lines between Mr. Miller’s lobbying and his support for Mr. McCarthy were underscored in the days after the speaker election.

Mr. Miller helped organize three days of festivities to celebrate, including a gala dinner at which Mr. Miller took the stage to introduce Mr. McCarthy. “Man, Kevin, I have waited a long time to say this: Ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy,” Mr. Miller told the audience of donors, corporate executives, members of Congress and other prominent Republicans, according to an attendee.

The following morning featured a breakfast for donors and freshman House Republicans held at the Washington offices of one of Mr. Miller’s lobbying clients — Altria, the tobacco and e-cigarette company. Since July 2017, Altria has donated nearly $1.4 million to a super PAC associated with Mr. McCarthy and paid $1.3 million to Mr. Miller’s firm.

Mr. Miller, 48, met Mr. McCarthy, 58, in the early 1990s. Mr. Miller was a high school student, and Mr. McCarthy was a district staff member for the Bakersfield, Calif., area’s congressman.