Lobbyists for Foreign Governments Raise Money, Get Clinton, McCain Meetings

Campaign finance experts say that presidential fundraisers are highly sought after by countries seeking to improve their access to Washington officials. "You always want someone who is well-connected, someone who is going to be greeted with open arms," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "Someone who has worked with the Clintons -- Bill and Hillary -- over a number of years is worth their weight in gold."

Another Clinton fundraiser, former Sen. Robert Torricelli, who lobbies for Taiwan, personally arranged a meeting in 2006 between the senator and a Taiwan official to discuss trade. Singer described the former senator as a "colleague and friend" of Sen. Clinton's and that her office "attempts to meet with all who request meetings on matters important to public policy."

Other Clinton fundraisers include Timothy Chorba, a Bill Clinton Georgetown classmate and Clinton-appointed ambassador to Singapore, who is registered to represent China, and Gordon Giffin, the Clinton-era U.S. ambassador to Canada, who now lobbies on behalf of three Canadian provinces. A spokesman for Chorba's firm, Patton Boggs, said that Chorba's activities on behalf of China do not constitute lobbying, but that Chorba is just a lawyer and adviser to the client.

Professor James A.Thurber of American University says that in the case of foreign lobbying, scrutiny is "even more critical because it has such an impact on relations between nations." If the candidate is elected, "the fundraiser is certainly going to be welcome in the White House, more so than people they don't know, to pitch for a specific interest," says Thurber, who heads the university's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.

On his quest for the White House, McCain has five fundraisers who lobby for foreign interests. His campaign co-chair and chief moneyman, Thomas Loeffler, has lobbied for Saudi Arabia for five years. Loeffler personally arranged a meeting between Sen. McCain and Prince Turki al-Faisal, then-Saudi ambassador to the United States, in May of 2006. Loeffler, a former congressman and longtime Republican fundraiser, chairs the firm that helped the Saudi kingdom join the World Trade Organization, fight anti-Saudi legislation and improve its image in the war on terrorism. The Saudi royals paid Loeffler's firm more than $11 million in two years for its efforts on their behalf.

Loeffler did not respond to repeated calls requesting comment, but when asked about his work for Saudi Arabia last April, Loeffler told the National Journal that he would handle "all of the work" of his firm while working on the McCain campaign. He also said, "I do not find a conflict of interest at this time," according to the magazine.

McCain's fundraisers also include lobbyists for Peru, the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq and Dubai.

One of them, Peter Madigan, works for the government of Colombia to promote a U.S.-Colombia free-trade agreement. His firm is also paid to "seek appropriations for the Government of Colombia," according to filings. The firm's lobbyists have distributed papers defending Colombian President Alvaro Uribe against allegations of ties to paramilitary groups, and promoting the controversial anti-drug program "Plan Colombia" as achieving "strengthening of human rights."

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