Archive for the ‘Washington lobbyists’ category

Traitor Senators Took Money from Iran Lobby, Back Iran Nukes

May 16, 2018

The Democrats are becoming a party of atom bomb spies.

August 25, 2015 Daniel Greenfield Frontpage Mag
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

Source Link: Traitor Senators Took Money from Iran Lobby, Back Iran Nukes

{America’s shit-list. – LS}

Senator Markey has announced his support for the Iran deal that will let the terrorist regime inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, buy ballistic missiles, fund terrorism and have a near zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb.

There was no surprise there.

Markey had topped the list of candidates supported by the Iran Lobby. And the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) had maxed out its contributions to his campaign.

After more fake suspense, Al Franken, another IAPAC backed politician who also benefited from Iran Lobby money, came out for the nuke sellout.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the Iran Lobby’s third Dem senator, didn’t bother playing coy like her colleagues. She came out for the deal a while back even though she only got half the IAPAC cash that Franken and Markey received.

As did Senator Gillibrand, who had benefited from IAPAC money back when she first ran for senator and whose position on the deal should have come as no surprise.

The Iran Lobby had even tried, and failed, to turn Arizona Republican Jeff Flake. Iran Lobby cash had made the White House count on him as the Republican who would flip, but Flake came out against the deal. The Iran Lobby invested a good deal of time and money into Schumer, but that effort also failed.

Still these donations were only the tip of the Iran Lobby iceberg.

Gillibrand had also picked up money from the Iran Lobby’s Hassan Nemazee. Namazee was Hillary’s national campaign finance director who had raised a fortune for both her and Kerry before pleading guilty to a fraud scheme encompassing hundreds of millions of dollars. Nemazee had been an IAPAC trustee and had helped set up the organization.

Bill Clinton had nominated Hassan Nemazee as the US ambassador to Argentina when he had only been a citizen for two years.  A spoilsport Senate didn’t allow Clinton to make a member of the Iran Lobby into a US ambassador, but Nemazee remained a steady presence on the Dem fundraising circuit.

Nemazee had donated to Gillibrand and had also kicked in money to help the Franken Recount Fund scour all the cemeteries for freshly dead votes, as well as to Barbara Boxer, who also came out for the Iran nuke deal. Boxer had also received money more directly from IAPAC.

In the House, the Democratic recipients of IAPAC money came out for the deal. Mike Honda, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Iran Lobby backed the nuke sellout. As did Andre Carson, Gerry Connolly, Donna Edwards and Jackie Speier. The Iran Lobby was certainly getting its money’s worth.

But the Iran Lobby’s biggest wins weren’t Markey or Shaheen. The real victory had come long before when two of their biggest politicians, Joe Biden and John Kerry, had moved into prime positions in the administration. Not only IAPAC, but key Iran Lobby figures had been major donors to both men.

That list includes Housang Amirahmadi, the founder of the American Iranian Council, who had spoken of a campaign to “conquer Obama’s heart and mind” and had described himself as “the Iranian lobby in the United States.” It includes the Iranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN) board members who had fundraised for Biden. And it includes the aforementioned Hassan Nemazee.

A member of Iran’s opposition had accused Biden’s campaigns of being “financed by Islamic charities of the Iranian regime based in California and by the Silicon Iran network.” Biden’s affinity for the terrorist regime in Tehran was so extreme that after 9/11 he had suggested, “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran”.

Appeasement inflation has since raised that $200 million to at least $50 billion. But there are still no strings worth mentioning attached to the big check.

Questions about donations from the Iran Lobby had haunted Kerry’s campaign. Back then Kerry had been accused of supporting an agreement favorable to Iran. The parameters of that controversial proposal however were less generous than the one that Obama and Kerry are trying to sell now.

The hypothetical debates over the influence of the Iran Lobby have come to a very real conclusion.

Both of Obama’s secretaries of state were involved in Iran Lobby cash controversies, as was his vice president and his former secretary of defense. Obama was also the beneficiary of sizable donations from the Iran Lobby. Akbar Ghahary, the former co-founder of IAPAC, had donated and raised some $50,000 for Obama.

It’s an unprecedented track record that has received very little notice. While the so-called “Israel Lobby” is constantly scrutinized, the fact that key foreign policy positions under Obama are controlled by political figures with troubling ties to an enemy of this country has gone mostly unreported by the mainstream media.

This culture of silence allowed the Iran Lobby to get away with taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times before the Netanyahu speech asking, “Will Congress side with our President or a Foreign Leader?”

Iran’s stooges had taken a break from lobbying for ballistic missiles to play American patriots.

Obama and his allies, Iranian and domestic, have accused opponents of his dirty Iran deal of making “common cause” with that same terror regime and of treason. The ugly truth is that he and his political accomplices were the traitors all along.

Democrats in favor of a deal that will let a terrorist regime go nuclear have taken money from lobbies for that regime. They have broken their oath by taking bribes from a regime whose leaders chant, “Death to America”. Their pretense of examining the deal is nothing more than a hollow charade.

This deal has come down from Iran Lobby influenced politicians like Kerry and is being waved through by members of Congress who have taken money from the Iran Lobby. That is treason plain and simple.

Despite what we are told about its “moderate” leaders, Iran considers itself to be in a state of war with us. Iran and its agents have repeatedly carried out attacks against American soldiers, abducted and tortured to death American officials and have even engaged in attacks on American naval vessels.

Aiding an enemy state in developing nuclear weapons is the worst form of treason imaginable. Helping put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists is the gravest of crimes.

The Democrats who have approved this deal are turning their party into a party of atom bomb spies.

Those politicians who have taken money from the Iran Lobby and are signing off on a deal that will let Iran go nuclear have engaged in the worst form of treason and committed the gravest of crimes. They must know that they will be held accountable. That when Iran detonates its first bomb, their names will be on it.

Mueller Investigating Top DC Lobbyists: Five Things to Know About the New Turn

November 5, 2017

Mueller Investigating Top DC Lobbyists: Five Things to Know About the New Turn, BreitbartKristina Wong, November 5, 2017

(Please see also, Why Robert Mueller is making K Street Republicans and Democrats sweat. — DM)

Alex Wong/Getty

It’s not certain if this means that Trump’s campaign is in the clear yet with Russian collusion, but so far, none of the indictments are related to the campaign itself.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating another lobbyist in addition to Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta — former Republican congressman Vin Weber, according to a new report by the Associated Press. Mueller is also looking into law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP. Here’s the five things to know about the investigation’s latest turn:

Who is Vin Weber?

Vin Weber, 65, is a former Republican congressman who represented southwest Minnesota from 1981 to 1993. He then served as secretary of the House Republican Conference and as an adviser to incoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He then worked as an influential lobbyist and political strategist for several Republican presidential campaigns. He is the leader of high-powered lobbying firm Mercury LLC.

Weber did not support President Trump’s candidacy, calling it a “mistake of historic proportions,” according to an August 3, 2016 CNBC article. “I won’t vote for Trump … . I can’t imagine I’d remain a Republican if he becomes president.”

According to the CNBC article, Weber is a friend and ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He speculated that Trump would withdraw from the race before the election.

Why is Weber now under investigation?

Weber is now under investigation due to Mercury LLC’s lobbying work in 2012 with Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian interests, according to the AP article. On Monday, Mueller’s team unveiled indictments against Manafort and Gates, who are charged with 12 counts of money laundering, tax fraud, violating lobbying regulations, and making false statements.

The indictments mentioned “Company A” and “Company B,” which are Mercury and the Podesta Group respectively, according to NBC News.

According to the indictment, Mercury and the Podesta Group were paid $2 million from offshore accounts controlled by Manafort, and their work included lobbying “multiple members of Congress and their staffs about Ukraine sanctions, the validity of Ukraine elections,” and the reasons for imprisoning Yulia Tymoshenko, the political rival of Russian-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The indictment shows that both Mercury and Podesta Group understood their lobbying efforts were being directed by the Ukrainian government, but neither company had registered their work in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), only filing retroactive disclosures after their lobbying was revealed in media reports.

NBC News reported last week that Mueller was investigating the Podesta Group. After the indictments were unsealed on Monday, Tony Podesta announced he was stepping down as chairman of the Podesta Group. He is the brother of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman.

What is Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP?

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is an international law and lobbying firm, with more than 1,800 attorneys in offices across the world. Lobbyists working for the firm represent some of the largest political players in the country, according to OpenSecrets.org.

According to OpenSecrets.org: “The firm regularly brings in more than $1.5 million per year in lobbying income. The firm’s PAC expenditures show strong support for Democrats running for office, although these sums have decreased in recent years.”

Why are FBI agents expressing interest in the law firm?

The firm produced a report in 2012 that used to justify the Ukrainian government’s jailing of an opposition politician in Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, the AP report said. “How the report came to be is now in question,” the report said.

The report was written by former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig. The report found that her trial was “procedurally flawed but not marked by political persecution,” the report said.

“The Ukrainian justice ministry officials who supposedly commissioned the report trumpeted it as proof that Tymoshenko was not a political prisoner,” it said.

The indictment of Manafort and Gates said they used an offshore account to funnel $4 million to secretly pay for the report.

It’s not clear whether the law firm is under investigation yet, or if agents are simply asking questions about it.

What do these new investigations mean?

It appears that Mueller is moving beyond investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, now going after lobbyists who violated lobbying laws, or worked as foreign agents without properly registering it with the Justice Department.

Investigators are asking witnesses about meetings between Gates, Podesta, and Weber, and any communication with representatives of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, sources told the AP.

Specifically, they are asking what the lobbyists knew about the source of the funding they were receiving, and who was directing the work in 2012, which took place four years before Manafort became Trump’s campaign chairman.

It’s not certain if this means that Trump’s campaign is in the clear yet with Russian collusion, but so far, none of the indictments are related to the campaign itself.

George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy campaign adviser, had talked to Russian nationals and tried to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but there is no evidence that any such meeting happened.

Why Robert Mueller is making K Street Republicans and Democrats sweat

November 4, 2017

Why Robert Mueller is making K Street Republicans and Democrats sweat, Washington ExaminerSarah Westwood, November 4, 2017 

A special counsel investigation into allegations of collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russians could end up exposing illegal activity from lobbyists and consultants at some of Washington’s most powerful firms across the political spectrum.

At least three major lobbying firms have already been identified or had their work described in court documents laying out the criminal charges against two of Trump’s former campaign aides. Those former associates — Paul Manafort, who worked on Trump’s campaign between March and August 2016, and Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy — face a 12-count indictment related to the false foreign lobbying disclosure forms they filed after years of failing to register their activities, as well as their efforts to launder the millions of dollars they earned from their undisclosed lobbying.

But Democratic powerhouses could also get caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s massive investigation. And Mueller’s seeming willingness to crack down on a practice that insiders describe as common and usually tolerated by the government could send shockwaves through the K Street lobbying firms that have represented foreign clients for years without proper documentation.

“This whole scandal has made K Street very nervous,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “There’s every indication that ignoring and violating the requirements of [the Foreign Agents Registration Act] is fairly widespread.”

Under FARA, lobbyists who represent foreign leaders or entities in Washington must disclose the nature of their business relationships to the Justice Department within a certain timeframe. However, the agency’s inspector general found in a report last year that 62 percent of all FARA registrations were late and found that the number of lobbyists registering under FARA had plummeted in recent years, suggesting more lobbyists are simply choosing not to disclose their work.

“The Department of Justice has done an exceedingly lax job at enforcing FARA, and everybody knows it,” Holman said. “Only recently, because of this Russia connection scandal, has there been any effort at tracking down those who are in violation of FARA.”

Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, said Monday, after Manafort and Gates made their first appearances in court, that Mueller’s team had used a “novel theory” to build its case around a series of FARA violations despite the government’s sparse history of securing convictions using that law.

The pair of former Trump associates are far from the only Washington insiders facing pressure from investigators over their conduct, however.

Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman and co-founder of the Podesta Group, stepped down this week from his position as chairman of the lobbying firm he built into a Washington institution. The Democrat-leaning Podesta Group had already come under scrutiny for failing to register all of its lobbying activity in Ukraine, but the indictment against Manafort and Gates alleged that two unnamed companies — one of which is believed to be the Podesta Group — falsely represented the nature of their relationships to a think tank controlled by Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russia Ukrainian leader at the center of the scandal.

A former Obama administration official and the powerhouse law firm for which he works may also face scrutiny from Mueller’s team over work he performed for Manafort in Ukraine.

Gregory Craig, White House counsel for former President Barack Obama from January 2009 to January 2010, led a team that performed a supposedly neutral analysis in 2012 of the controversial trial that led to the conviction and imprisonment of Yanukovych’s political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Craig’s team at the major Washington law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom concluded that Yanukovych’s government had not locked up Tymoshenko for political reasons and found “no evidence” during the review to support the idea that Yanukovych’s government had abused the justice system. The report was described, at the time, as the product of an “independent” review that the Ukrainian government under Yanukovych commissioned and funded.

But a little-noticed passage in the 31-page indictment against Manafort and Gates suggests Manafort may have secretly steered the Skadden report in a direction favorable to Yanukovych and may have wired the report’s authors millions of dollars to secure a friendly conclusion.

“Manafort and Gates also lobbied in connection with the roll out of a report concerning the Tymoshenko trial commissioned by the Government of Ukraine,” Mueller’s team wrote in the indictment. “Manafort and Gates used one of their offshore accounts to funnel $4 million to pay secretly for the report.”

Craig did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The report his team produced at Skadden received criticism at the time for its failure to find Yanukovych responsible for misconduct in a case that many human rights advocates considered a politically motivated effort to extract revenge on a rival.

Freedom House, a nonpartisan democracy watchdog, called many of Skadden’s findings “utterly baffling” and described the report as “misguided.”

“Predictably, the Yanukovych government seized on this part of the report as proof that the proceedings had conformed to the norms of judicial fairness,” Freedom House noted in a December 2012 blog post about the Skadden report.

The State Department, then under Clinton’s leadership, criticized Skadden’s methodology shortly after it completed the review in December 2012, but stopped short of accusing the law firm of colluding with Yanukovych.

“I can’t speak to the relationship that the Ukrainian Government has with a private law firm in the United States,” then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said when asked in 2012 whether Yanukovych had purchased an exonerating review from Skadden. Manafort’s alleged secret payment in connection with the report was not known at the time.

The Podesta Group did not respond to a request for comment on its own activity in Ukraine, which allegedly extends beyond a simple FARA violation.

The firm registered in April its contract with the think tank cited in the indictment of Manafort and Gates. Podesta personally signed a document that said the Belgium-based think tank, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, hired the Podesta Group independently and directed all of the firm’s advocacy efforts, according to the Podesta Group’s lobbying disclosure forms.

A representative of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine signed her name to a statement in the documents, swearing that “none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized, in whole or in major part, by a government of a foreign country or foreign political party.”

But Mueller’s indictment alleges that the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine was nothing more than a vehicle for Yanukovych to purchase more lobbying power in Washington while evading detection. The indictment also claims the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC, a Republican-leaning lobbying firm, took their marching orders from Manafort and Gates, not the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine.

“To minimize public disclosure of their lobbying campaign, Manafort and Gates arranged for the Centre to be the nominal client of Company A and Company B, even though in fact the Centre was under the ultimate direction of the Government of Ukraine, Yanukovych, and the Party of Regions,” prosecutors wrote in the indictment. “For instance, Manafort and Gates selected Company A and Company B, and only thereafter did the Centre sign contracts with the lobbying firms without ever meeting either company. Company A and Company B were paid for their services not by their nominal client, the Centre, but solely through off-shore accounts associated with the Manafort and Gates entities.”

The second unnamed company, whose partnership with the Centre is thought to be described in the Manafort and Gates indictment, could bring Mueller’s scrutiny back to the Right side of the aisle. Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota, is a partner at Mercury and signed his name to a FARA form that the firm filed in April for its work with the center.

Mercury retroactively registered its representation of the center just 16 days after the Podesta Group registered its own, according to disclosure forms.

Weber did not respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Mercury also did not return a request for comment.

Mercury’s FARA compliance has come under scrutiny in the past.

For example, the firm raised eyebrows earlier this year when it filed a foreign lobbying disclosure form that did not actually name a foreign client. Instead, Mercury noted it would be doing public relations work for “Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia & Greece,” while listing the Libertas Foundation, an American group, as its client. Libertas was incorporated just one day before Mercury filed its FARA form for the organization, BuzzFeed reported in June.

“Mercury Group should have asked at least, who’s funding Libertas?” said Holman, the FARA expert.

Holman predicted Mercury could face prosecution for its work in Ukraine.

“The fact that Mercury Group is now shown to have violated FARA twice, indicates that Mercury really is deliberately not complying with FARA,” Holman said.

Daniel Pickard, an attorney at Wiley Rein who advises clients on FARA, said the Justice Department brought just seven criminal cases related to violations of FARA between 1966 to 2015.

“On top of this, the FARA registration unit, which is composed of intelligent and hardworking professionals, has limited staff and resources but considerable responsibilities,” Pickard said of the Justice Department unit tasked with enforcing the rules surrounding foreign lobbying disclosures.

Trump, for his part, has sought to keep the focus on Democrats’ dealings with foreign powers, as the special counsel’s investigation has closed in on three of his former campaign aides.

The president and his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, have repeatedly insisted that the only “collusion” with Russia that occurred during the presidential race came at the hands of Democrats. Trump’s allies had been emboldened by the discovery last week that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee shared the cost of producing a dossier of Russia-related allegations against the Trump campaign. The former British spy who authored that dossier sourced some of his allegations to senior Russian officials, spawning the argument that Democrats had indeed teamed up with Russians to hurt Trump.

But the two indictments and one guilty plea unsealed by Mueller this week have relegated the dossier to a footnote of the Russia narrative.

Even so, White House aides are not yet worried that the special counsel’s investigation will do lasting damage to the president, a source close to the White House told the Washington Examiner.

“White House staffers are used to dealing with high-level crises because of the sheer volume has been very intense since January,” the source said. “However, if there are more dominoes that fall, such as a Jared Kushner indictment, that would really sink the morale inside the White House to the point of potential paralysis.”

Trump’s team has managed to insulate the White House from much of the Mueller drama by pointing to the unrelated nature of Manafort’s work for Yanukovych, most of which took place long before he joined the Trump campaign. Yanukovych was ousted from power in 2014, at which point he fled to Russia. And the White House has argued the campaign hand who pleaded guilty to lying about his ties to Russia, George Papadopoulos, was simply an overzealous volunteer who never wielded real influence within the campaign.

However, Mueller’s probe does pose a threat to K Street, and lobbyists from both parties will likely watch Manafort’s case with great interest to see which of their peers and practices will come under scrutiny.

Manafort made another appearance in court on Thursday.