Coats lobbied for India; firm lobbied for Yemen

Democrats have been hitting former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) for his domestic lobbying, but the biggest attacks on his lobbying past might stem from his foreign work.

Coats registered as a lobbyist for a foreign interest while he worked at Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand in 2000 and 2001. According to lobbying disclosure documents, he contacted members of Congress trying to get them to invite the Indian prime minister to a joint session of Congress.

Coats only personally lobbied for India, according to the documents, but around the same time his firm also did foreign lobbying for several other countries, including the governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.

Yemen isn’t exactly a country you want your name tied to right now, and the lobbying documentation provides Democrats with a ready-made attack ad to use against Coats.

Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said the foreign lobbying brings things to a whole new level for Coats.

“It’s one thing to be a lobbyist; it’s another to be lobbying for Yemen,” she said. “He’ll have that hung around his neck day in and day out.

“I think it’s huge, and it’s going to be really hard to overcome.”

A spokesman for Coats did not respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE 9:20 p.m. Monday: Coats spokesman Kevin Kellems says: "There's a reason Democrats are throwing so much mud so early against a very decent man Hoosiers respect and twice elected statewide: They are nervous about Sen. Bayh's recent support for the President's extreme health care agenda and the fact that Evan hasn't had a competitive election in decades."