“We’re asking Congress to have [the] State [Department] set up this program using Gadhafi’s frozen assets here in the United States,” he said.
Newberger’s clients aren’t the only ones lobbying for access to Gadhafi’s money in the United States.
Earlier this year, the Interim Transitional National Council of Libya retained Patton Boggs to, among other things, assist “with the effort to make funds of the Gadhafi regime that have been frozen in the U.S. available for use by the Council, for the benefit of the people of Libya,” according to a filing with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
David Tafuri, a partner at Patton Boggs who represents the council, which is the new Libyan government, said there isn’t a question of where the frozen money should go.
“These funds are still the Libyan people’s money,” he said. “As Crowell & Moring knows quite well, there was a deal signed between the old government of Libya and the U.S. to establish a compensation fund to pay off the victims. That needs to stand.”
Tafuri said that if the victims need additional money, then their claims should be against the U.S. government and the State Department, which managed the fund.
But Newberger said his effort has generated bipartisan support on Capitol Hill during a time of otherwise intense partisan rancor.
“This may be the only fully bipartisan thing going on,” Newberger said.
A collection of Senators including Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this fall saying they were “extremely concerned” about the way American victims were being treated.
One major challenge, though, is finding a legislative measure to attach the provision to. “We’re looking for any vehicle that’s moving,” said Mike Hacker of HDMK.
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