Newly filed lobbying disclosure documents show that Robin Raphel, the State Department's nonmilitary aid coordinator for Pakistan, attended meetings to help Pakistan craft lobbying strategy less than a week before her government appointment was publicly announced.
Raphel worked for lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates until July 31; her State Department job was announced Aug. 5. Cassidy has represented Pakistan since May. Cassidy’s latest disclosure filings, submitted to the Justice Department Oct. 30, show Raphel attended more than 40 meetings on Pakistan’s behalf in the two months before she left at places including the State Department, and Capitol Hill, though it doesn't specify who she met with.
The State Department and the White House have not responded to questions about Raphel's appointment, including queries this week about whether the State Department knew she was working on Pakistan's behalf immediately before taking her new job.
The Cassidy report also shows Raphel's termination date as Sept. 1, 2009, which would mean her job at the State Department overlapped with her job at Cassidy by about a month. On Thursday, Cassidy spokesman Tom Alexander said the termination date on the report was incorrect, and Cassidy would file an amended report with the Justice Department showing Raphel's last day was July 31.
Alexander stresses that Raphel “was not engaging in political or advocacy activities on behalf of our client and was instead assisting in a very limited and brief strategy development and information gathering phase.” In other words, she wasn't lobbying - just helping Cassidy craft a lobbying strategy on Pakistan's behalf.
Raphel led work on a $1.2 million-a-year lobbying contract for Pakistan that Cassidy briefly held in 2007, so her new job already appeared to violate a ban on federal appointees participating in matters involving former clients or employers. Read an earlier National Law Journal story about the matter here. The Obama administration has been extremely vocal about its conflict of interest policies, and repeatedly promised to limit the influence lobbyists have in Washington.
In August, a State Department spokesman said Raphel will be a temporary worker who can only work 130 days out of 365, and because of that, was subject to different conflict of interest requirements, though he did not provide specific information about what those requirements were.