Watchdog groups call for investigation into Ros-Lehtinen’s foreign lobbying work
The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) requested that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) violated ethics laws.
CLC sent a letter on Friday to Corey Amundson, chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, noting that a member of Congress cannot aid or advise a foreign entity with the intent to influence the U.S. government for one year after leaving Congress.
Ros-Lehtinen was hired by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a senior adviser in January 2019 after retiring from Congress earlier that month. In April, she was named a team leader of the consulting team on Akin Gump’s contract with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
It is common practice for lobbying firms to hire members in adviser roles that don’t include lobbying soon after leaving Congress, before their ban is up.
“Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s decision to work as a lobbying consultant for a foreign government just months after leaving office violates the post-employment restrictions that protect the integrity of public service,” the letter reads.
“Members of Congress are not allowed to leverage the information and relationships they gained during public service for the benefit of foreign governments for a year after leaving Congress,” it continued, “even if they provide assistance to those governments behind the scenes.”
Akin Gump responded that Ros-Lehtinen’s work on the account did not violate any laws.
“As clearly stated in our public filing with the Department of Justice, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen would not conduct any representation on behalf of the HKTDC until after her restricted period,” a spokesperson told The Hill. “She conducted no activity during that restricted period and to date has not performed any FARA activity on behalf of the HKTDC.”
The letter, signed by CLC’s director of federal and FEC reform, and Delaney Marsco, CLC’s ethics counsel, requested the Justice Department open an investigation to determine if the former congresswoman violated the law.
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