Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Want to be a ‘foreign agent’? Serve in US Congress first

Politico reports:
Saudi Arabia’s long-standing reservoir of goodwill on Capitol Hill had already been dwindling for years when Congress voted to allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom over its alleged involvement in the terrorist attacks.

But Saudi Arabia still has lots of allies among retired members of Congress — the ones it pays, at least. And they’re more than willing to leverage their access on Capitol Hill to defend the U.S.-Saudi relationship, even as an increasing number of lawmakers challenge Riyadh’s support for Wahhabi extremist groups and raise alarm bells about the humanitarian toll of its U.S.-backed military campaign in Yemen.

As the Saudis tried to prevent lawmakers from overriding President Barack Obama’s veto of the 9/11 legislation last week, former Sen. Norm Coleman — the Minnesota Republican who lost to Al Franken in 2008 — worked his former colleagues in the Senate. Former Rep. Michael Castle, a Delaware Republican now lobbying for DLA Piper, set up meetings for the Saudis with House leadership. And in the midst of the fight, the Saudis hired former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican, and the deal-making former Louisiana Democrat John Breaux, both currently at Squire Patton Boggs, to a $100,000, one-year lobbying contract.
Why people go into politics: to get wealthy.