Thursday, October 18, 2007

Turkey's Lobbyists Fund Presidential Campaign

On FARA online one can find the text of the contract in which DLA Piper agrees, for a fee of $1.2 million/year, to provide lobbying and governmental relations services to Turkey including, but not limited to: “Preventing the introduction, debate, and passage of legislation that harms turkey’s interest or image.”
Preventing the debate? How about this for a country that wants to be a member of the European Union. I wonder of course how the US law allows this.
The contract.
I found -and I copy below-the following interesting information on the contract and the donations of the company.
The contract is signed by Matthew Bernstein who has (according to OpenSecrets) given $8,900 to Presidential candidates this year ($4,600 to Clinton, $2,000 to Dodd, $2,300 to Biden)[here I corrected a previous error--I initially wrote that he gave $1000 to Edwards, which he has not], and John Merrigan, who has given $11,500 to the campaigns ($4600 to Clinton, $4600 to Dodd, $2,300 to Biden). All told, DLA Piper has given half a million to candidates in the 2008 cycle—I didn’t parse out the Presidential ones. Dick Gephardt and his wife have donated $4,600 to Hillary Clinton. David Mercer, named in the contract, has given $4,600 to Clinton. John Zentay, whose name is also on the contract, has given $2,000 to Clinton.
In fact, DLA Piper has given nearly $300,000 to Clinton’s campaign, and I’m sure that number undershoots it—when I looked up John Merrigan, only some of his contributions were tagged as DLA Piper contributions. He has personally bundled over $100,000 for Clinton.
It is, of course, illegal for a foreign principal “directly or through another person” to contribute to an electoral campaign in the United States. But what is “through another person,” really?
Is it possible that John, Matt, and Dick acted on their own?
And as for the inflammatory headline...I thought about it, but I decided to keep it, because its true. I welcome the world into our political conversation, but I think the laws limiting foreign contributions to political campaigns are necessary for self-government, and when it looks like they might be using campaign contributions to do a runaround on those limitations, we should note it.
DLA Piper also represents the UAE, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan, in separate contracts.
Thanks to those who have been working to get FARA online. It truly transforms the role of the citizen in digging deeper, and a model for how a general lobbying database could work.

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