Robin Raphel, the State Department's nonmilitary aid coordinator for Pakistan and a former lobbyist for Pakistan, attended meetings to help that country craft lobbying strategy until shortly before her new position was announced last summer. Now, new lobbying disclosure reports show her former firm contacted her regarding Pakistan within a month after the announcement.
A filing submitted to the Justice Department this month by lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates reports that the firm, which has a $700,000-a-year contract to represent Pakistan, e-mailed Raphel on Sept. 2 regarding "ROZ legislation" - economic development legislation giving the president authority to establish “Reconstruction Opportunity Zones” (ROZs) in Pakistan’s frontier area with Afghanistan.
The filing also shows two more e-mails from Cassidy to Raphel in September regarding a Senate bill known as the Kerry-Lugar bill, which increased nonmilitary aid to Pakistan. The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama in October.
Tom Alexander, a spokesman for Cassidy & Associates, said in an e-mail to The BLT that the firm had "contacted Ambassador Raphel to discuss the status of" the aid bill and "to seek clarification of statements she had made to the press."
In August, a State Department spokesman said Raphel was 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. The State Department has since not answered questions about Raphel's appointment, despite repeated requests.
The Obama administration has been extremely vocal about its conflict-of-interest policies, and repeatedly promised to limit the influence lobbyists have in Washington. Obama signed an executive order shortly after taking office banning federal appointees from participating in matters involving former clients or employers. Read a previous BLT item on this issue here.