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Bill Restricting US Lobbying for Foreign Governments Has Support

  • VOA News

Congressman Frank Wolf (VOA file photo)

Congressman Frank Wolf (VOA file photo)

U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf has expressed confidence that an amendment restricting former U.S. government officials from lobbying on behalf of certain foreign nations will soon become law.

Wolf said Friday that countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Iran, among others, need to be reminded that their government policies, or illegal human rights abuses, are not acceptable to American people. He said there have been cases where former members of Congress, former CIA station chiefs and other former U.S. officials have lobbied for these countries after they leave office.

"If you are given the opportunity and the honor to serve in Congress, it is a great honor, you then should not trade on that and represent the government that is cracking down its own people," Wolf said.

As a particularly egregious example to show why the ban is necessary, Wolf cited a case of a former CIA station chief in Burma who left government service several years ago and went to work for a D.C. firm that took on the Burmese military junta as a client. Newspaper reports had said he made about $5,000 a month trying to persuade U.S. officials to adopt a more friendly policy toward Burma's repressive former regime.

Wolf said the law would prevent such practices and it would apply to governments that have especially bad human rights record, like Sudan.

"If you want to become an ambassador, it is a great honor to be an ambassador, but then leave and go out to represent a nation - a government that persecutes its own people, the Sudanese people, the Sudan government bombing its own people, the Sudan government starving its own people in Darfur. So why should somebody who had been an ambassador or CIA station chiefs then go out and work for that country? They have all top secret of information from all the security briefings and they can take that and turn it against the people," Wolf said.

Wolf said the law would apply to countries of special concern (CPC) listed by the State Department. China is listed because it suppresses human rights and religious freedoms.

"They are prosecuting the Catholic churches. A number of protestant pastors are in jail. If you haven't seen the pictures of people, people who have set themselves in flame in Tibet, you might want to take a look at those pictures. I think people in China ought to see what Chinese government’s policy has done to drive people in Tibet, and Tibetans to set themselves to flame. So because of that policy, it’s not appropriate for former members of Congress and ambassadors to lobby for these countries," Wolf said.

Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, says Saudi Arabia is included because its official textbooks are filled with messages of hatred against other religious minorities, such as Jews and Christians and the country's radical form of Islam is taught in some mosques and religious schools.

He said, in addition to foreign governments, the ban could affect foreign state-sponsored businesses.

Wolf's amendment has been approved by the House Appropriations Committee and he says he has heard no objections yet to it being passed into law next year.