Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Contracted to Lobby for Turkey

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The Hill (Washington, DC)

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Contracted to Lobby for Turkey

by
Kevin Bogardus

Former Speaker of the U.S. House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL)

The Turkish government has signed another prominent former congressional leader to join its K Street team.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and others at his firm,
Dickstein Shapiro, are working on a $35,000-per-month contract for
Turkey, according to records on file with the Justice Department.

Hastert was the longest-serving Republican House Speaker until he
retired from his seat after the 2006 midterm elections. He joined
Dickstein in June 2008.

The agreement is a subcontract between Hastert's firm and the Gephardt
Group, founded by Richard Gephardt, the ex-Missouri congressman who was
the Democratic House leader for several years. Gephardt and others at
DLA Piper replaced the Livingston Group, longtime lobbyists for Turkey,
as its Washington representatives last year.

In a Feb. 27 letter to Thomas O'Donnell, Gephardt's former chief of
staff and executive vice president at his firm, Dickstein partner
Robert Mangas says he and Hastert "will be principally involved in the
representation" of Turkey. Mangas says in the letter that the firm will
serve as Turkey's counsel, "in connection with the extension and
strengthening of the Turkish-American relationship" in several areas,
such as trade, energy security and counterterrorism efforts.

Also working with Hastert and Mangas on the contract at Dickstein are
Allison Shulman, a legislative specialist at the firm, and former Sen.
Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.), according to Justice Department records.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

One issue Hastert and others lobbying for Turkey will have to deal with
this year is a congressional resolution that defines the killing of an
estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early 1900s as
genocide. The Turkish government opposes the resolution and has lobbied
against it every time it has been introduced in Congress.

On the campaign trail last year, Barack Obama explicitly said the
killing was genocide. But on a recent trip to Turkey, President Obama
only said he stood by those prior statements. He did not use the word
"genocide," angering some Armenian-American activists.

This Congress, the resolution to recognize the massacre as genocide was
introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). So far, the bill has
attracted 93 co-sponsors.

In October 2007, the same resolution was passed out of the House
Foreign Affairs Committee in a contentious vote. But House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not end up allowing the bill to come to a
vote as Turkish officials repeatedly said passing the resolution would
threaten the nation's alliance with the United States.

Hastert has also been involved in the debate over the genocide
resolution. In 2000, the Illinois Republican, then House Speaker, took
the measure off the voting schedule after being asked by President Bill
Clinton to do so.

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