GAO investigation of former trade officials is needed (Rep. Louise Slaughter)

Yesterday, I joined with seven other lawmakers in asking the General Accounting Office for a probe into whether former top government trade officials are inappropriately using their influence to hurt American companies. Our request comes after reports that several top Bush-era staffers are now working on issues that have the potential to harm U.S. workers.

At any time, but certainly in this time of economic crisis, we must question the appropriateness of those who have been involved in the formulation of our nation’s trade policies, who then use the knowledge and contacts gained in government in a manner adverse to the interests of domestic producers.



Recently, for example, it has come to light that a number of former trade officials –– have chosen to represent foreign producer interests, either directly or through importing parties, on a Section 421 case at the International Trade Commission that is the subject of a hearing today, June 2. The use of the knowledge, expertise and contacts they gained during government service is now being adversely applied to U.S. interests.

This particular case relates to a provision in U.S. trade law dealing with surging imports of products from China, and the Chinese government has been aggressively seeking to influence the outcome its outcome, including engaging in inappropriate contacts with ITC officials. The former trade officials and staff involved in representing Chinese interests in this case served in key policy jobs during the Bush Administration.

The individuals involved in Section 421 are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to those who have chosen to represent foreign interests in administrative actions, before the Executive Branch or on Capitol Hill. Taxpayers make substantial investments in the training and salaries of these individuals and trust that they will uphold the public’s interests. American taxpayers should not find their hard-earned money used in ways that ultimately jeopardize the interest of those producers who are struggling to survive in an increasingly competitive world market. These individuals should be helping to promote growth and opportunity, not undermine it.

We need to slam the revolving door so that government employees do not walk out of their office and into lobbying positions where they may work against the best interests of American workers and industries. I hope that a detailed GAO probe into this issue will shed some light on this questionable practice.

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