By Jonathan E. Kaplan - 03/15/05 12:00 AM EST
A lawmaker who accepted a paid trip to South Korea from a group registered as a foreign agent has demanded that the group release updated records.
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) wants the group, the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, which mistakenly declared itself an entity of the Korean government, to turn over the appropriate information so that he can file an accurate disclosure form with the House clerk.
Even though Feeney did not know the group had registered as a foreign agent, it is a violation of House rules for lawmakers to accept trips from foreign entities. Six Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including Maority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), accepted trips from the group to Korea.
Jason Roe, Feeney’s chief of staff, said an aide no longer with his office erred by not filing an initial disclosure form with the clerk of the House.
Last Friday, Feeney wrote Edward Stewart, a principal at the Alexander Strategy Group, which represents the Exchange Council, asking for the dates of travel; expenses for transportation, meals and lodging; and the purpose of the trip.
“Currently, the House does not have record of my disclosure and I am obligated to provide that information. I would appreciate your compliance with my request at your earliest convenience,” Feeney wrote.
Stewart told The Hill in an e-mail: “Our organization is working diligently to provide [Feeney] with all the relevant information. We are pleased that some of the information he has requested will be sent to him by close of business” yesterday.
Time magazine reported that the Hanwha Group, a Korean holding company, is the group’s principle financial backer and that the Exchange Council and Alexander Strategy share the same address and phone number.
Stewart added that the Exchange Council’s attorneys “are working through the various issues surrounding this entire matter and have asked that we limit our comments to the news media.”
The Exchange Council also had hired the Glover Park Group’s Joel Johnson as a lobbyist.