According to a new report from the Quincy Institute, a self-described realist think tank that advocates for restraint in U.S. foreign policy, at least 90 former U.S. lawmakers have registered as foreign agents since 2000. Many go on to lobby for enemy governments, including China.
For example, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri and former Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan lobby for the Turkish government —most recently to influence U.S. arms policy towards the country.
“Together, they aided Turkey’s efforts to influence U.S. arms policy towards Turkey, extradite exiled Turkish dissident Fetullah Gulen, and drum up opposition towards the People’s Defense Units, a predominantly Kurdish militia group in Syria that is also supported by Washington,” the Quincy Institute’s report stated. “Many of these former elected officials and their firms also lobbied against U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide — which eventually took place in April of 2021 — warning that the ‘seriousness of the genocide issue’ poses “a potential threat to the U.S./Turkey relationship.”
Well, this sounds downright dangerous —like a group of ex-government workers acting as its own government. The conflicts of interest are, at least, a gray area if not flat-out unacceptable.
How about this: former Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) Louisiana Republican works for Hikvision, a Chinese state-owned video surveillance company. China and surveillance —that’s a twofer.
And here’s why that’s frowned upon, to say the least…
According to a report from Axios, “cameras made by Chinese surveillance company Hikvision are deeply integrated into an intelligence program aimed at tracking and detaining Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang.”
So Mr. Vitter works with a company that, in its own small way, contributes to genocide. Got it. Are there more ex-congressmen working against American interests? Why, yes.
Former Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, went from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to representing the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia where, as a Saudi lobbyist, “Coleman played a central role in working to rehabilitate Saudi Arabia’s image following the brutal 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi role in the disastrous war in Yemen,” the researchers wrote.
Wait, here’s the scariest bit…
According to the Washington Examiner, “the report said an OpenSecrets analysis found that China had spent more on foreign agent registrants than any other country since 2016.”
“As spending has accelerated, so has China’s practice of hiring former lawmakers, with seven former members representing their interests in the past four years alone,” the report said.
“I think first and foremost there’s at least the potential for a national security risk here in that when we’re talking about former members of Congress, we’re talking about people who had access to classified information,” Quincy Institute research fellow Ben Freeman says. “And in some cases, we’re talking about people who had access to highly classified information, including military operations, intelligence operations overseas, or even domestic national security threats here in America.”
Letting countries that don’t share our values or interests draft our veteran players should, for national security reasons, be illegal.
That’s just common sense —which we greatly lack, these days.