The following piece was produced by the HuffPost's OffTheBus.
Like others in the race for the White House, Hillary Clinton has strong words for Pakistan, but has yet to propose the United States seriously consider limiting its aid to the country. But unlike the other leading Democratic presidential hopefuls, Edwards and Obama, she has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Pakistan's lobbyists, Cassidy & Associates. Its founder, Gerald Cassidy, long ago maxed out his donations to her.
According to the Foreign Agents Registration Act website, Pakistan recently hired Cassidy and Associates for a one year, $1.2 million/year contract. The Cassidy contract with Pakistan makes for good reading. For the $1.2 million, "target audiences will be identified for critical message reception," and Cassidy will inventively move beyond pushing pieces in the mainstream media, also focusing on blog outreach. In other words, Cassidy will shill and propagandize for one year, and use its contacts in Washington--presumably including Clinton--to ensure that the billions in aid are not diminished, regardless of what the government does to its citizens and its elections. According to The Hill, Pakistan's lead lobbyist is Robin Raphel, who served in the Clinton administration.
While not prohibited by law, accepting such a donation necessarily raises questions about the effect this relationship--and similar ones--will have on her policies in the White House towards Pakistan should she win the 2008 contest, or in the US Senate should she not. The influence of money is never straightforward, of course. Joe Biden, the other democratic Presidential candidate to receive money from Cassidy, has called for cutting off support to Pakistan if it does not change course.
The Pakistan example is not isolated. Foreign influence from around the globe is present behind the curtains in our electoral process, as lobbyists and lawyers for Russian oligarchs, African dictators, and Middle Eastern sheiks donate heavily to the Presidential campaigns. DLA Piper, a massive campaign contributor, represents the President of the Cote D'ivoire, the Prime Minister of the UAE, the Government of Ethiopia, and the Government of Turkey. Oleg Deripaska, the powerful Russian oligarch, has hired Alston & Bird--the employees of which have already donated over $100,000 to Presidential campaigns.
DLA Piper, for a fee of $1.2 million/year agreed to provide lobbying and governmental relations services to Turkey including, but not limited to: "Preventing the introduction, debate, and passage of legislation that harms turkey's interest or image."
All told, DLA Piper has given half a million to candidates in the 2008 cycle, including nearly $300,000 to Clinton's campaign. John Merrigan, whose name is on the Turkish contract, has personally bundled over $100,000 for Clinton.