Friday, October 7, 2011

Americans need to occupy K Street too: Seoul's 1% spends millions on K Street South Korea Lobby (& US campaign contributions?) for KORUS

I wish the Occupy Wall Street movement would understand this is the street they need to focus on…

The street that passes the money from the corporations to the politicians…

I understand they are going to protest there today…this is the protest I would like to see take hold.

Obama promised to reign in K street and has done nothing…it is not the $20 gifts that the people are objecting to. It is things like this article is about.

Shut down K street all together.

BY jb on 10/06/2011 at 07:25 (Comment at "Trade deals were cash cow for K Street" by Kevin Bogardus, 10/10/11, The Hill)
It's not just the 1% at Wall Street that 99% of ordinary Americans are up against...

They are also up against the foreign 1% represented by K Street lobbyists. South Korean corporate interests have spent millions on K Street lobbyists since 2006 to push through a free trade deal opposed by the majority of U.S. and South Korean citizens (family farmers, labor rights, environmentalists, human rights and consumer advocates).

Kevin Bogardus' Oct. 10, 2011 "Trade deals were cash cow for K Street" published at The Hill on Oct. 10, 2011 charts some of the behind-the-scenes manipulation of the U.S. government by foreign lobbies (of course U.S. corporations and banks do the same overseas):
The Korean government was the biggest spender among the three, with close to $6.3 million spent on lobbying and PR from 2006 into 2011.

Not included in the Hill’s analysis was lobbying and PR spending recorded in Justice records by any private groups — such as the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, a quasi-governmental agency — or government agencies not connected to the trade agreements.

Opponents of the trade deals are still lobbying hard against the agreements and said there will be nothing to celebrate if the president signs them.

“With the projections that hundreds of thousands of manufacturing workers will lose their jobs from the pending trade pacts, it’s hard to work up too much sympathy for the relative handful of lobbyist contracts that may expire after Congress votes on the deals,” said Todd Tucker, research director for Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch...

In a July 2010 letter to the Korean ambassador on file with Justice, Akin Gump laid out a month-by-month strategy to pass the country’s trade deal. The plan included hosting social gatherings at the embassy; exploring hosting an event in Napa Valley to coincide with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) retreat; reaching out to national security experts at think tanks like the Center for American Progress and Third Way; and organizing the ambassador’s visits to California, Illinois, Michigan and Washington state.
Ben Freeman, Lydia Dennett, and Dahna Black at The Project on Government Oversight have written an in-depth report that addresses foreign campaign contributions , "Super Committee: Under the (Foreign) Influence?":
...For instance, lobbyists for South Korea have muscled in on Super Committee action. The top foreign lobbying firm in the U.S., Patton Boggs, LLP, was hired in February 2010 on behalf of both the non-profit Korean International Trade Association and the Embassy of South Korea to advocate for passage of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement. They targeted committee co-chair Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in a September 14, 2011 letter at least partly on the basis of her work on the Super Committee. The letter from Patton Boggs’ senior partner Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr., to Murray states:

Ambassador Han would like to discuss the status of the pending US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), including in the context of the ongoing deficit reduction discussions in which you play a crucial role…The Ambassador is anxious to discuss these matters, as well as to update you on KORUS's benefits for the United States, particularly the State of Washington...

Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) and Patton Boggs, have a similar track record. The firm contacted Clyburn’s office about the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement more than any other representative in the past year and these contacts often coincided with campaign contributions the firm made to Clyburn. For example, on September 21, 2010 Patton Boggs lobbyists met with a Clyburn staffer to discuss the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The following day, Patton Boggs PAC made a $5,000 contribution to the Senator, and the day after that Clyburn received an additional $500 from a Patton Boggs foreign lobbyist – a week later the firm got a face-to-face meeting with Clyburn to discuss the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement.

Clyburn may have had extra encouragement to take this meeting from Patton Boggs employees who don’t work as foreign lobbyists. In addition to the $5,500 Clyburn received from the firms’ PAC and a foreign lobbyist, employees of the firm made contributions to Clyburn of $500 on September 27th and $1,000 on the 30th, the same day that the Congressman met with their Patton Boggs colleagues. Prior to these contributions in September neither Patton Boggs PAC nor any of its employees had made a contribution to Clyburn in more than six months, according to CRP data.  Yet, in just nine days, from the time Patton Boggs first met with Clyburn’s associates until the day they met with the Representative himself, Clyburn received $7,000 in direct contributions from Patton Boggs and its employees.

Clyburn continued to promote the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Just this past April, the Korean Ambassador to the U.S., Han Duk-soo, and Clyburn attended a fundraiser in the Representative’s home district in South Carolina, where sponsors contributed up to $5,000. With echoes of lobbyist Tommy Boggs’ September 2011 letter to Senator Murray cited earlier, at the event the Korean Ambassador to the U.S. gave a keynote address on “the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement and the benefits for South Carolina's economy.”

Patton Boggs declined to comment.

A Loophole for Contributions from Foreign Nationals?

Was it just a coincidence that within days of meeting with Clyburn to discuss the Korea Free Trade Agreement Patton Boggs contributed $7,000 to his campaign? Were the contributions Baucus received from Akin, Gump completely independent of the United Arab Emirates? Perhaps, and it would be incredibly difficult to prove otherwise. While the relationships between Clyburn, Baucus and foreign lobbyists are not shining examples of democracy in America, these exchanges are considered legal based upon current campaign finance and foreign lobbying regulations. Lobbyists working on behalf of foreign governments, just like any other U.S. citizen, are free to make political contributions. Their foreign clients, however, are explicitly prohibited from making any political contributions in the United States.

These foreign lobbying relationships then lead to a legal paradox – foreign entities hire agents who can commit acts they otherwise legally could not. Each year, foreign lobbyists are paid hundreds of millions of dollars by their foreign clients and they make millions of dollars in contributions to politicians. Yet American citizens are asked to naively believe that foreign lobbyists never use foreign money to influence the U.S. political process.
For a compilation of articles on KORUS, please see this post: "Worse than NAFTA: S. Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) would hurt U.S. & S. Korean small farmers & workers; Burmese, N. Korean slave labor"

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