What it Takes to be a Lobbyist

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

What it Takes to be a Lobbyist

Helena sent me this link (pdf file) to a recent DC Circuit Court ruling regarding Rwanda. While the details of the case are rather mundane, having to do with the current government of Rwanda seeking to recover payments made to lobbyists by the former government, the reason for the payments is fascinating
While civil war and genocide raged, Rwanda’s embassy in Washington entered into the two agreements at issue in this case. First, on July 8, 1994, four days after RPF forces captured Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Rwanda’s United States Ambassador Aloys Uwimana, a representative of the Hutu government, signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with three Americans —appellant Robert W. Johnson II; Timothy Towell, a retired U.S. diplomat; and Edward van Kloberg III, a Washington lobbyist.

Under this agreement, the three Americans, termed the “Rwanda Working Group” or “RWG,” were to “assist the Government of Rwanda, through Ambassador Aloys Uwimana in Washington, to get its views clearly and dramatically presented to the international community.” In particular, the RWG would “[e]ncourage the comprehension and support of American authorities of Rwanda’s cause,” aiming to “isolat[e]” the RPF and foster the perception that it constituted “a marginal group, perhaps even a minority, foreign manipulated, terrorist group.” The MOU, which called for payments totaling $70,000, required an initial deposit of $28,000. On July 13, Rwanda’s embassy cut a check for that amount to the “Robert W. Johnson II Trust Fund.”
A week later, the US government forced Rwanda to shut its embassy and demanded taht its employees to leave the country. Eventually, the new RPF-controlled government tried to get this money back.

But that is not really the point. The point is that these three men accepted $70,000 from a regime that, for the previous three months, had been systematically killing nearly 1 million of its own citizens. Even worse, they pledged to work to convince lawmakers and reporters that the RPF was to blame.

What sort of person would do such a thing? A bit of an answer can be found in the obituary of Edward von Kloberg who apparently killed himself just over a month ago.

Sometimes the mind just reels.

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