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Brookings President Resigns Amidst Qatar Lobbying Investigation

June 20th, 2022 15:35

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.

Read the rest here.

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.

Read the rest here.