Island paid $500,000 to Washington DC lobbyists over 12 months – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Island paid $500,000 to Washington DC lobbyists over 12 months

Government spent over half a million dollars on lobbyists in Washington last year, according to newly available federal records.

The news prompted the Opposition to question whether Bermuda is getting value for money.

Some of the cash, $116,666.69, went to a firm led by a former Obama campaign strategist to improve the Island's relationship with the US President.

Public Private Partnership Inc, based in Washington DC, was hired on April 1, weeks before the controversial Uighur resettlement deal was cemented.

It's run by Arthur R Collins, a veteran of President Obama's successful campaign and a former advisor to failed Presidential nominee John Kerry.

As this newspaper reported last year, the London Times suggested Public Private Partnership Inc came up with the idea to resettle the four Guantanamo detainees in Bermuda on June 11, 2009.

According to the records, the firm was in contact with senior White House officials on a total of 41 occasions between May 14, 2009 and October 9, 2009.

The work done on Bermuda's behalf included a meeting on May 20 with the “chief of staff to the assistant to the President” and an e-mail sent on June 13 to the same person.

Other meetings and e-mails related to congressmen, ambassadors and special envoys, plus the director of the US Department of Defense.

Other payments, to the tune of $63,478.97, went to Darlene Richeson and Associates.

As

The Royal Gazette previously reported, Ms Richeson was enlisted to set up Bermuda's Washington DC office and develop a long-term strategic plan for Government to work with the US Congress.

Cash totalling $87,500 went to Marston Webb and Associates, appointed by the Ministry of Finance as its public relations and media relations consultants to sell Bermuda as a top international financial centre to investors abroad.

The majority of the cash, $317,168.49, went to long-time lobbyist Ken Levine, a lawyer who has represented Bermuda since the late 1980s.

Little has been revealed about his work. However, the new database shows he worked on tax legislation through contact with Congressman Charles Rangel, Congressman Danny Davis and Congressman Kendrick Meek over the course of May 19 and 20.

The database of federal records, which is a joint project of the American investigative journalism group ProPublica and The Sunlight Foundation, can be viewed at www.foreignlobbying.org.

Commenting on the news, United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan said: “Because there is a complete lack of information about what these Washington consultants have actually accomplished, it is difficult to for us to comment in any detail.

“It is certainly important to maintain Bermuda's presence in the capital of our largest trading partner, but we do have to question whether Bermuda is getting value for all the money that's being sent into the coffers of the consultants.”

He added: “What is clear is that the Government cash faucet is wide open to them, and that our taxpayer dollars funded the disgraceful Uighur operation in which the then Premier violated Bermuda's Constitution.

“But this outflow of dollars is just a small part of the river of money flowing into the pockets of countless Bermuda Government consultants to the tune of $100 million a year.

We have targeted for cutbacks this enormous expenditure on what amounts to Bermuda's shadow government.”

Premier Paula Cox and former Premier Ewart Brown were invited to comment, but responses were not forthcoming by press time.

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Published December 04, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 10, 2010 at 3:30 am)

Island paid $500,000 to Washington DC lobbyists over 12 months

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