The Plank

Sudan's Quest for Lobbyists

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According to an FBI press release, Robert Cabelly, who attempted to lobby on behalf of Sudan from 2005-2007, has just been indicted on eight counts--including money laundering, passport fraud, and conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign power. In 2006, his work for Sudan was legal, since the Bush administration's State Department granted him a waiver to lobby in the United States. But the waiver was rescinded after Congressman Frank Wolf threatened to withhold State Department funding for Africa unless Cabelly was barred from doing further work for Sudan.

You’d think that would have been the end of it, but instead we find out that Cabelly wouldn't take no for an answer: The FBI says he continued to “engage in illicit contractual relationships with the oil industry in Sudan, operating as an intermediary between Sudanese government officials and oil company executives and a foreign oil company, and sought additional investors on behalf of that foreign oil company so it could do business in Sudan. He also allegedly provided strategic advice and counsel to Sudanese officials … Cabelly allegedly directed a foreign oil company to deposit over $180,000 of the fees he received in an offshore account he maintained in the Cook Islands, an account he used to launder the funds … Cabelly also concealed his travel to the Sudan from U.S. authorities by misusing U.S. passports.” Classy stuff.

This is the third recent case--in just the past few months--involving Americans helping Sudan build up a lobbying machine to curry favor with the White House and Congress. According to The Washington Post, former Reagan official Robert "Bud" McFarlane gave advice to the Obama administration while working on behalf of Sudan and tried unsuccessfully to recruit several former Sudan envoys as a lobbyists as well. In addition, Robert B. Crowe, the current co-chairman of John Kerry's campaign and PAC committees, doggedly pursued permission to sign a lobbying contract with Khartoum until about two weeks ago.

One would hope Cabelly's high-profile prosecution will have a chilling effect on Khartoum’s lobbying plans--but we'll have to wait and see. It's not like the people who have committed genocide in Darfur have a sense of shame.

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