X

Former US Congress Members Took in $6 Million Helping to Fight Sanctions Ahead of Ukraine Invasion

June 1st, 2022 15:42

Respon­si­ble State­craft, a US for­eign pol­i­cy NGO, report­ed in March on for­mer mem­bers of the US Con­gress hired by Rus­sia to fight sanc­tions against the coun­try in the lead up to the war in Ukraine. Accord­ing to the report:

March 28, 2022 As Russ­ian forces were mass­ing along Ukraine’s bor­der in mid-Jan­u­ary, the U. S. Con­gress was iden­ti­fy­ing sanc­tions tar­gets to pun­ish Russ­ian aggres­sion. When Sov­com­bank found itself in Congress’s crosshairs, Russia’s ninth-largest bank did what many Russ­ian inter­ests have done when fac­ing con­gres­sion­al pres­sure — it hired for­mer mem­bers of Con­gress. Sovcombank’s $90,000-a-month con­tract with Mer­cury Pub­lic Affairs includ­ed the ser­vices of for­mer Sen­a­tor David Vit­ter (R‑La.) and for­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Toby Mof­fett (D‑Conn.) who quick­ly went to work lob­by­ing their for­mer col­leagues on Sovcombank’s behalf. In one let­ter to con­gres­sion­al offices, for exam­ple, Vit­ter wrote that Sov­com­bank would be an “extreme­ly coun­ter­pro­duc­tive sanc­tions tar­get” because of its “deep ties to US and west­ern insti­tu­tions.” This strat­e­gy for an imper­iled Russ­ian inter­est to buy the ser­vices of for­mer mem­bers of Con­gress is noth­ing new. Pri­or to the inva­sion of Ukraine, Russ­ian com­pa­nies had amassed an assort­ment of for­mer mem­bers push­ing their agen­da in Wash­ing­ton. In fact, at least eight for­mer mem­bers rep­re­sent­ed Russ­ian and Belaruss­ian inter­ests in the past sev­en years. Their firms took in more than $6 mil­lion in rev­enue rep­re­sent­ing Russ­ian oli­garchs, banks tied to the Krem­lin, and the com­pa­ny behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, accord­ing to an analy­sis of lob­by­ing records. This col­lec­tion of for­mer mem­bers includ­ed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Sweeney (R‑N. Y.) whose firms SMW Part­ners and Sweeney & Asso­ciates were paid at least $110,000 in 2018 for lob­by­ing on behalf of Nord Stream 2 AG, the com­pa­ny behind the Rus­sia-Ger­many Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In 2019, Sweeney began lob­by­ing for the new­ly-sanc­tioned VEB Bank, the gov­ern­ing body of which is chaired by Russ­ian Prime Min­is­ter Mikhail Mishus­tin, earn­ing near­ly $600,000 before the con­tract was ter­mi­nat­ed in May 2020. In 2015, For­mer Rep. Rick Bouch­er (D‑Va.) signed a con­tract worth $40,000 a month to rep­re­sent JSC VTB Bank, the sec­ond largest Russ­ian bank­ing group of which 92 per­cent is owned by the Russ­ian government.

Read the rest here.

In late Feb­ru­ary, around the same time, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed that due to Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine, many US lob­by­ing firms were rush­ing to cut ties with their Russ­ian clients.