Thursday, January 05, 2006

the Livingston Group

update: for more of my recent pieces on sibel, start here and for an important update re Sibel and Livingston, see here
Speaking of The Livingstone Group, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Report has a case study on them (starts at pg 12):
"Among the Livingston Group’s most lucrative contracts are some that do not show up on lobby disclosure records filed with Congress. Since 2000, Livingston has taken in more than $11 million from foreign governments and the vast majority of that money, $9 million, has come from Turkey, with $1 million more each from Morocco and the Cayman Islands. [See Figure 9]
Livingston’s representation of these foreign governments brought in a quarter of his company’s annual revenue in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, it was reported that Livingston picked up yet another foreign government client. Azerbaijan has signed a $300,000 a year contract with the Livingston Group.


Livingston Lobbying Effort #1: $1 Billion Supplemental Appropriation for Turkey
In the spring of 2003, in the wake of U.S. hostility toward Turkey for its refusal to allow our troops to stage and operate from Turkish soil during the invasion of Iraq, a measure was introduced in Congress to delete a $1 billion supplemental appropriation for Turkey. An examination of FARA records reveals that in the days prior to the supplemental vote, Livingston used his influence and connections to reach not only his former colleagues on Capitol Hill but also top executive-branch officials. Livingston and his staff contacted members and staff of the House Appropriations Committee, which he used to chair. They also reached out to staff or members of the House International Relations Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
Livingston also contacted the foreign policy advisor to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and escorted the Turkish ambassador on a strategic trip to the Capitol. But the lobbying blitz did not end with Congress. FARA records show that Livingston and his people contacted aides to Vice President Dick Cheney and an undersecretary of state for political affairs. Livingston’s contacts and his success in reaching key people became evident when a vote was taken on the amendment to kill the $1 billion supplemental appropriation on April 3, 2003. It was defeated 315 to 110. Turkey paid Livingston’s firm $1.8 million in 2003.

Livingston Lobbying Effort #2: Fighting Against the Recognition of Armenian Genocide by Turkey
In 2003, a resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives that would have formally recognized the Armenian genocide that occurred between 1915 and 1923. Over 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks during that period.
Turkey, a strong and militarily strategic U.S. ally, has always vehemently opposed recognition of the Armenian genocide. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whose district has a high concentration of Armenian-Americans, introduced a resolution (H.R. 193) in 2003 calling for formal recognition of the genocide by the U.S. Congress. But, due in no small part to Turkey’s main lobbyist Bob Livingston, the measure
failed to get momentum. But the stakes were raised in mid-July 2004 when Schiff unexpectedly said he intended to attach an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which would have prohibited Turkey from using U.S. foreign aid money to lobby against a House resolution acknowledging the Armenian genocide.
The measure was largely symbolic because a ban on using U.S. aid for lobbying already existed, but Schiff acknowledged that his real purpose was to put the House on record as recognizing the Armenian genocide. Upon learning of the Schiff amendment, FARA records show that the Livingston Group kicked
into high gear. In two days of intense lobbying, the Livingston Group contacted members or key staff in 20 House offices, including Speaker Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Livingston and his lobbyists also called Vice President Cheney’s office, the National Security Council, the State Department, and an assistant secretary for the Defense Department.
Despite Livingston’s lobbying efforts, Schiff’s amendment survived an initial vote. On the day after the vote, FARA records show that Livingston personally contacted the offices of Cheney, Hastert and DeLay..
At about the same time, Hastert, DeLay and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) issued a statement expressing their displeasure with the Schiff amendment and saying it would be killed in the conference committee.
Later Schiff said, “The Turkish lobby does have enormous power and influence. Unfortunately the House leadership has buckled under the pressure of Turkish lobbying.”"
That effort with respect to the Armenian genocide is, of course, the same episode that Sibel's VF article refers to when Hastert gets accused of taking $500k in bribes.

The effort re the $1billion appropriation is kinda interesting. This happened immediately after the iraq invasion, and Duke Cunningham was trying to cut Turkey's $1bn - ostensibly in retaliation for Turkey blocking American access to Iraq, (but more likely someone offered the Duke something in return for this favor.)

The timing is somewhat interesting because this was immediately prior to the OVP going beserk about Plame and Wilson... Livingston met with Grossman (who ordered the June Plame memo) and "Joe Woods, aide to Vice President Cheney" (i cant find *anything* about him) at the beginning of April, 03.

Bob Livingstone is, of course, a member of the ATC, and we know that the ATC was probably into nefarious dealings re Brewster Jennings. Is it possible that he fed the Plame information to the OVP and Grossman? or is it more likely that Grossman and Edelman already knew about Plame? i'd have to guess the latter, although the timing is somewhat curious.

i'm still confused.

update: for more of my recent pieces on sibel, start here

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