HILL & LOBBYISTS: MORE THE MERRIER
Published in the New York Post on April 9, 2008.
When Hillary Clinton professed to be furious about Mark Penn’s lobbying for the Colombia Free Trade Pact, did she realize that she’s up to her ears in lobbyists for foreign entities?
Many of her top advisers and strongest supporters are registered lobbyists for foreign governments and corporations – and many may have gotten lucrative clients via referrals from Bill Clinton himself or by advertising their close connections to the couple.
Start with Colombia.
Bill Clinton met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on March 26, 2007, at the 80th birthday party for Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Ten days later, on April 5, ColombiaProExport signed a $40,000 a month contract with the Glover Park Group – a lobbying firm often called “the Clinton White House in exile.”
Its partners include Hillary Communications Director Howard Wolfson (now on a leave of absence from the firm) and several other former Clinton administration aides. Former Hillary campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle used to work there, too.
A few weeks later, Penn’s firm, Burson MarSteller, signed a $300,000 contract on the Colombia trade deal.
According to one high Colombia official privy to Bill Clinton’s private conversations, the former president urged Colombia to shift its focus from GOP legislators to Democrats (who’d taken control of Congress) and then made phone calls to two Democratic congressmen.
How did the Colombians end up hiring lobbying firms with close ties to the Clintons’ political operations? It’s doubtful that they used the yellow pages.
But Colombia wasn’t the only country to hire Clinton-linked lobbyists right after a visit from the former president.
On Feb. 27, 2005, Bill Clinton gave a speech in Taiwan and had dinner with the country’s president. On April 15, Glover Park was hired to lobby for the Taiwan Cultural and Economic Minister at $25,000 a month. Before then, it had relied on Republican Bob Dole.
Remember the Dubai Ports deal? Bill Clinton was caught advising the Emir of Dubai on how to handle Congress at the very same time that Hillary was blasting the deal.
We’ve since learned that Bill’s in a partnership with the sheik and Yucaipa’s Ron Burkle. The Clintons won’t say how much of his $15 million from Yucaipa came from Dubai, but we know that Bill looks out for its interests.
When the Port deal ran into trouble, Bill recommended that Dubai hire Glover Park. Shortly afterward, Glover Park was retained to represent Dubai on another deal – routed through a law firm, making it harder to track the Dubai connection. The partner handling the Dubai account? The brother of Neera Tanden, Hillary’s policy aide.
There’s more: Dubai Aerospace hired Glover Park for $250,000 and the firm of Quinn, Gillespie for $240,000. Jack Quinn is the former counsel to Clinton who engineered the pardon of fugitive billionaire Mark Rich. Quinn’s firm is owned by WPP, the company that owns Penn’s Burson Marsteller.
When the emir and his brother were sued in Miami in a class-action claiming that they had kidnapped young boys to train as camel jockeys, the Dubai lobbying efforts kicked into high gear. DLA Piper, whose lobbyist partners include two Hillary mega-bundlers, was hired to convince the Bush administration to intervene in the lawsuit.
Johnson, Madigan, which often partners with Harold Ickes in lobbying for New York earmarks, was also paid $800,000. (They were also retained on the Colombia deal.) The suit was dismissed. Among the senators who met with the DLA Piper lobbyists on the issue: Hillary Clinton.
Frequently, the agendas of these lobbyists directly contradict Sen. Clinton’s positions. While Hillary has often criticized the outsourcing of American jobs, Glover Park was paid $120,000 to push for a Defense Department award to the French company Airbus. Quinn’s firm got over $600,000 on the deal. Stonebridge International, headed by former National Security Council Adviser and Hillary confidante Sandy Berger got $180,000.
The Clintons are now suffering politically for their lobbyist ties. But the links are far deeper and more profitable than has been known.