By Dave Levinthal and Anna Palmer with Abby Phillip
April 25th, 2012
PI INTERVIEW … WOLF SAYS FOREIGN LOBBYING BILL NOT ‘FOR JUST DISCUSSION PURPOSES’: If Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has his legislative way, a slew of top government officials — congress members, high-ranking executive branch and military members, ambassadors and CIA foreign station chiefs, among them — would face 10-year bans on lobbying for a foreign government. And the 16-term congressman tells PI that his newly filed bill to do just that isn’t a matter of political vanity. “I will use every method we possibly can to get this done. I am very serious about this,” said Wolf, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee. “It is not put in for just discussion purposes.”
Dubbed the Foreign Lobbying Reform Act, H.R. 4343 is Wolf’s latest attempt to curb the relatively limited, but hardly unheard of practice of ex-U.S. officials lobbying on behalf of foreign governments, with recent examples including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Wolf, who in 2007 proposed a five-year ban, says he’s particularly concerned with undemocratic foreign governments purchasing the services of influential ex-politicos. “The more evil they are, the more despicable they are or against the United States government they are, they more they pay, the more they need the help,” Wolf said, adding he doesn’t consider his bill a partisan matter. “It’s totally bipartisan … nonpartisan,” he said. “I don’t think what we have here is a partisan problem. It’s just a problem, period.”
In a related matter, Wolf today sent a letter to Sidley Austin Partner Carter Phillips asking that it reconsider its representation of Chinese telecom firm Huawei by a former member of Congress, citing its ties to the Chinese military. Although the letter doesn’t name him, former Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is the congressman in question, Wolf’s office says. Read the letter here: http://bit.ly/Ja4hoo. Boucher told PI he has not seen the letter yet and doesn’t want to comment until he’s read it.