US media is reporting on US officials involved in an ongoing investigation into illegal lobbying on behalf of Qatar. According to an AP report, the president of the influential Brookings think-tank, a retired four-star Marine general, has resigned his position after it was revealed he was under investigation in the affair:
June 13, 2022 The president of the Brookings Institution resigned Sunday amid a federal investigation into whether he illegally lobbied on behalf of the wealthy Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. Retired Gen. John Allen wrote in a letter to the think tank that he was leaving with a “heavy heart” but did not offer a direct explanation. “I know it is best for all concerned in this moment,” Allen’s letter said. A retired four-star Marine general who led U. S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Allen’s announcement came less than a week after The Associated Press was first to report on new court filings that showed the FBI had seized Allen’s electronic data as part of the lobbying probe. Allen has not been charged with any crimes and, through a spokesman, has denied any wrongdoing. Brookings, which had put Allen on administrative leave the day after the AP’s initial report, issued a statement thanking Allen for guiding the think tank through the coronavirus pandemic and other contributions. The institution said information about the search for a new president would be forthcoming. The new court filings detail Allen’s behind-the scenes efforts to help Qatar influence U. S. policy in June 2017 when a diplomatic crisis erupted between the gas-rich Persian Gulf monarchy and its neighbors.
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The AP report also reported on other officials involved in the lobbying affair:
The federal investigation involving Allen has already ensnared Richard G. Olson, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan who pleaded guilty to federal charges earlier this month, and Imaad Zuberi, a prolific political donor now serving a 12-year prison sentence on corruption charges. Several members of Congress have also been interviewed.
According to an earlier AP report, Olson failed to disclose financial benefits he received from Zuberi, a California businessman:
Federal prosecutors also said that while at the State Department, Olson failed to disclose certain financial benefits he received from a California businessman named Imaad Zuberi. Once a major political donor, Zuberi is now serving a 12 year prison sentence for funneling illegal campaign contributions to politicos in both major parties and then peddling the resulting influence to foreign governments. The new court records do not use Zuberi’s name, but The Associated Press was able to identify him based on court filings in other cases, letters a Zuberi representative has sent to Congress, and interviews with Zuberi associates.
In May 2021, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported on the continuing increase in Qatari lobbying efforts. As Bloomberg reported at that time:
April 27, 2021 Qatar is ramping up its lobbying efforts in the U.S., eager to cultivate a closer relationship with the Biden administration and Congress in order to avoid a repeat of 2017, when it was caught off-guard by a Saudi-led boycott in the Persian Gulf. Since January, Qatar has hired seven prominent firms to do lobbying and consulting work in Washington at a combined rate of $186,000 per month, according to Foreign Agent Registration Act documents. At least five of the firms have close ties to Democrats, including links with the House and Senate foreign affairs committees.
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