Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Romney Bundler A Registered Foreign Agent For Hong Kong
Newly released lobbyist bundler disclosure records filed by the Mitt Romney campaign show that Tom Loeffler raised at least $17,500 in bundled contributions for the campaign over the first six months of 2012. Loeffler, a former Republican U.S. Representative from Texas and a lobbyist at Akin Gump represents a wide array domestic clients including USAA, NextgenID, and the Texas Association for Home Care & Hospice. But a ThinkProgress review of Foreign Agent Registration Act reveals that Loeffler registered in February as a registered agent for a foreign government: the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).
The agreement — signed by Loeffler — stipulated that, from February 13 through June 30, 2012, he would “protect, promote, assist and develop Hong King’s economic and trade interests in the United States of America” by working with Congress and the executive branch. In exchange, the HKTDC agreed to pay Akin Gum $35,775 per month. The Romney bundling all took place during the time Loeffler was under this initial contract, though it is unclear whether the contract was renewed at the end of June.
Loeffler has a long history of raising money for Republican presidential candidates. In 2008, Loeffler stepped down from his position as a national finance co-chair for John McCain’s campaign when Newsweek discovered that he had lobbied on behalf of Saudi Arabia. But Romney’s campaign has welcomed him back into the campaign fundraising fold.
Romney’s campaign, while being highly critical of China and the Obama administration’s approach to it, has organized campaign fundraising events in Hong Kong for U.S. citizens living there. He has also come under fire for apparently profiting from Bain investments in a company that provides surveillance cameras for the Chinese government to spy on its own citizens.
Loeffler is the second lobbyist bundler for the Romney campaign identified by ThinkProgress as a registered foreign agent: in January, the Romney campaign disclosed bundler Ignacio E. Sanchez — a registered foreign agent for both the United Arab Emirates and a birther presidential candidate in the Dominican Republic. Romney has not voluntarily disclosed the names of his campaign bundlers, but a 2007 law requires that federal candidates disclose the names of any registered lobbyists who bundle large amounts for their campaign.
By contrast, President Obama does not accept campaign contributions donated or bundled by federal lobbyists or foreign agents and has called for a ban on bundlers lobbying. His campaign voluntarily discloses all of its major bundlers, as did Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and President George W. Bush (R) in their 2000, 2004, and 2008 races.
Founded in 1966, the HKTDC promotes “Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and Asia.” Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous city, but a part of China.
Loeffler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.