The Dictator Lobby

 

Would anyone ever imagine that there are individuals and firms in the United States that conduct business deals and rack in huge profits from some of the world’s worst human rights abusers? If not then welcome to the Washington D.C. swamp where moral integrity and human decency almost seem non existent. The Washington D.C. hub is saturated by a host of lobbying firms, public relations boutiques, and special interest groups that go to great lengths in order to serve their clients interests even if that means compromising issues involving human rights.

Records show according to the Foreign Agents Registration Act that American lobbyist’s have been very busy in the international community, especially when it comes to lobbying members of congress on behalf of a foreign government. Unfortunately many of the countries receiving lobbying efforts are comprised of brutal dictators who have atrocious human rights records. Lobbying as a general comparison is influence peddling at best. Lobbyists are usually hired by a foreign government and paid a lump sum of money to conduct public relations campaigns or to persuade members of congress into passing legislation that would create lucrative business ventures.

The Washington D.C. dictator lobby network has been going on for decades and has increasingly gotten out of control as more and more dictators are using the system to strengthen their influence and power on the tax payer dime in the form of foreign aid and trade deals while human rights gets put on the back burner. Numerous lobbying firms are accepting money from authoritarian regimes in an effort to smooth over a dictators image so it looks appealing to Washington standards in order to get their interests considered. Most members of Congress give into the dictator lobby either because they have no morals or integrity to stand up for human rights or they just cannot refuse the pay off lobbyists promise their campaign for reelection in return for their help in proposing and passing legislation that gets all party’s involved what they want.

The people that get left out of the mix are the same individuals that have to live under the rule of the dictator that just got their way with Washington. The citizens who live in these authoritarian countries hardly profit from the lobbying that Washington produces, in fact these people are routinely denied their basic freedoms and persecuted if they try to criticize the government. In Washington D.C., there are over one hundred lobbying firms that do business with thirty of the most brutal regimes that show total disregard for human rights. It also seems that the lobbyists and the politicians themselves have no respect for human rights judging from all the work they do for some of the world’s worst dictator’s.

Dictatorial regimes like Saudi Arabia, China, Equatorial Guinea, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Qatar, Gabon, Venezuela, Jordan, and Cameroon are just a few of the countries that lobbying firms including The Podesta Group, Squire Patton Boggs, Qorvis/MSLGroup, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and Hogan Lovells represent. The lobbyists representing these countries are just as guilty of stifling human rights as the dictator who oppresses their citizens right to individual freedom. Arbitrary arrest/detention, extrajudicial killings, executions, torture, rape, beatings, forced labor, denial of women’s rights, and religious freedom are just some of the atrocities committed under the leadership that the lobbyists and the politicians support because for them human rights often gets overlooked when checks are cashed.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2016 The Podesta Group racked in $242,212.40 from Azerbaijan, $20,600.00 from Qatar, $150,000.00 from Vietnam, and $869,605.65 and $61,800.00 from Saudi Arabia. Squire Patton Boggs collected $150,943.65 from Qatar, $84,031.13 from Gabon, $381,463.00 from Cameroon, $360,000.00 from China, and $3,476.69 from Saudi Arabia. Qorvis/MSLGroup made $225,000.00 from China. Hogan Lovells cashed in $1,905,290.01 from Saudi Arabia, and $124,643.90 from Venezuela in lobbying fees. These figures are just the tip of the iceberg from the many lobbying firms that take large amounts of money to advance a dictators cause.

It would do the international community and the individuals who suffer under dictatorial rule a great favor if the elected congressional leadership in Washington D.C. could actually stand for what is right and morally just by not pandering to the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups. It does not make any sense to represent a free country like the United States, but tell the rest of the world they cannot be free as well.

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