June 28, 2000
Beltway Lobby Embraces Cornyn

Texas Attorney General John Cornyn is offended that the media reported that the top two “hosts” listed for his D.C. fundraiser this month were tobacco lobbyists Haley Barbour and Charlie Black.
Cornyn protests the notion that the financial aid that he receives from big tobacco influences his role as a chief critic of his predecessor’s record-breaking $17.3-billion anti-tobacco suit.

Further fueling such perceptions:

“After taking tobacco money and serving its agenda, why is Cornyn  shocked by this tobacco-shill image?” Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald asked. “Borrowing from Shakespeare, methinks the general protests too much.”
This Lobby Watch screens the 14 hosts of Cornyn’s June 14th fundraiser to see who else represents special interests that might come before the Texas AG.

Cornyn’s Beltway Lobby Hosts

C. Boyden Gray: Wilmer 
Cutler & Pickering lobbyist
This ex-White House counsel for George Bush the elder now lobbies for nuclear power, drug companies and a trade group for Swiss banks, which recently agreed to repay some of the Holocaust victim money that they have hoarded for 60 years.

Gray chairs Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). This corporate front group defends the interests of its top funders, which include tobacco companies, drug companies and polluters. The owners of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries are CSE’s founders and biggest underwriters. After Koch gave $5,000 to Cornyn’s AG race, AG Cornyn settled the state’s lawsuit seeking pollution damages from Koch.

Recently, Gray has denounced the anti-trust claims filed against Microsoft (a CSE contributor) by the federal government and 20 state attorneys general. Texas is not among them.

Ronald Kaufman & Phil Musser:
Dutko Group lobbyists
George Bush the elder appointed his campaign director, Ron Kaufman, as his deputy White House personnel director. In this role, Kaufman recruited the first chair of the Indian Gaming Commission. This agency had authority over the casino plans of the Wampanoag tribe, which later hired Kaufman to lobby.

Several Dutko clients have been dogged by political scandals. In 1997 Congress investigated charges that politics prompted the Bush and Clinton administrations to award nuclear-waste contracts to Molten Metal Technology (whose president gave $82,000 to Al Gore and the Democratic Party).

Another client, JM Family Enterprises, is an auto dealership run by a convicted tax cheat that has not paid Florida income taxes since 1992. JM lobbyist Paul Anderson—a Bush Pioneer fundraiser—lobbied Broward County officials for tax breaks in 1998 without complying with lobby registration laws.

John Napier:
Winston & Strawn lobbyist
Napier became a lobbyist after stints as a federal judge and a congressman. One of his firm’s clients, Liberty Maritime Corp., lobbies to protect its dominance of U.S. food aid shipments. While federal law reserves 75 percent of this cargo for U.S.-flag carriers, Winston & Strawn sought 1996 legislation to further squeeze competitors by restricting this cargo to new ships. Napier also lobbies for Cherokees who operate a casino.
Gary Selvy:
MBNA lobbyist
MBNA is the world’s largest independent credit card company. Company president Charles M. Cawley (a GWB fund-raising Pioneer) jumped into politics in 1992 when then Senate Banking Chair Alfonse D’Amato considered capping credit card interest rates.

In 1998, this industry that dis-tributes credit cards like candy demanded that Congress punish “irresponsible” consumers who declare bankruptcy. MBNA brass gave more than $50,000 to Bush’s 1998 gubernatorial campaign and have been the No. 2 source of funds for Bush’s presidential bid. Selvy lobbies in Austin and Washington for the company’s Dallas-based information technology wing. The MBNA PAC gave $500 to Cornyn’s AG race.

Haley Barbour: Barbour 
Griffith & Rogers lobbyist
As Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair in 1995, Barbour promised to pay $1 million to anyone who could prove the Clinton administration’s allegation that the GOP congressional majority was cutting Medicare funding. Then this tort-reform crusader turned around and sued the 80 people who took him up on this challenge.

As RNC Chair, Barbour led a GOP campaign to slash Medicare spending. Barbour then became a lobbyist for nursing homes seeking relief from these very policies.

With Barbour at the helm during the 1996 campaign, the RNC’s top donor was Philip Morris ($2.5 million). Barbour and his party’s failed 1996 presidential candidate then become big tobacco lobbyists.

Barbour’s was the sixth largest lobby firm in the country in 1998, reporting $7.4 million in lobby income. Besides big tobacco, the firm lobbied for drug, utility, insurance and transportation firms, as well as Microsoft.

Charlie Black: Black Kelly 
Scruggs & Healey lobbyist
Black has been a top political advisor and fundraiser for Ronald Reagan and George Bush the elder. His firm lobbies for big tobacco, polluters and McAndrews & Forbes—Revlon’s parent company. (Vernon Jordan got this company to give jobs to two people with intimate knowledge of Bill Clinton’s legal troubles: Webster Hubbell and Monica Lewinsky.)

A Texas-based Black client—Waste Control Specialists—wants state and federal approval to dump nuclear waste in West Texas, where it operates a hazardous waste dump. This company tells shareholders that it is losing money because too many dumps are chasing too little hazardous waste.

AG Cornyn—who took $41,000 from Waste Control’s Harold Simmons and Kent Hance—may have helped to alleviate this hazardous waste “shortage” when he issued a March 1999 opinion that ruled that a state law barring hazardous waste imports into Texas is unconstitutional. •

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Texans for Public Justice is a non-partisan, non-profit policy & research organization
 which tracks the influence of money in politics.

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