Foreign Travel, Anyone?

Posted April 29, 2005 at 2:18pm

Former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), who withdrew from his 2002 Senate race after a fundraising scandal, has signed up as a foreign agent.

Through his Lambertville, N.J., firm, Rosemont Associates, Torricelli recently registered with the Justice Department to represent TECRO, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.[IMGCAP(1)]

According to the agreement filed with the Justice Department, Torricelli’s firm will receive $15,000 a month for work that includes “invit[ing] Members of Congress to visit Taiwan” — even though such trips are under increasing scrutiny these days.

According to a PoliticalMoneyLine database on travel, Taiwan is the 12th most popular country for Congressional jaunts.

Rosemont will also “attempt to persuade the Congress to act favorably on legislation of interest and benefit to Taiwan” and to assist TECRO in establishing contacts with Members, relevant committees and key staff.

Torricelli did not return a phone call seeking comment. But the agreement between his firm and TECRO states Rosemont will deliver to the client monthly activity reports and must notify it if Rosemont decides to represent the People’s Republic of China.

Saudi Road Show. Qorvis Communications, the public relations giant controversial for its work on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia, has retained a top Republican fundraiser to help conduct media outreach for the Middle Eastern kingdom.

Meredith Iler, president of the Houston-based Strategic Alliance, has an “oral agreement” with Qorvis to provide “consulting services, namely, event planning … designed to enhance the image of Saudi Arabia in the eyes of American business leaders, the American public and political leaders,” according to filings with the Justice Department’s Foreign Registration Unit.

In the previous election, Iler earned the rank of “Super Ranger” by raising at least $300,000 for for the Republican National Committee. She’s since been busy touting the kingdom’s democratic reforms and efforts to help the United States in its war on terror.

By early February, Iler had already racked up more than $40,000 in expenses for her work, according to the filings.

Earlier this year, she helped organize a tour by Nail Al-Jubeir, an information officer for the Saudi embassy, to several Midwestern cities. On Jan. 28, for example, she planned a $7,680 event at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas, according to the filings. Reporters were invited to hear Al-Jubeir discuss how the kingdom is “cracking down on terrorist activity,” according to a news release promoting the event.

More recently, Iler brought Congressional staffers, energy executives, and local businesspeople in Wichita, Kan., to meet with Robert W. Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, where they discussed business opportunities in the kingdom, according to the Wichita Business Journal.

The work is part of a road show Qorvis has organized for Saudi officials since it won the account shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The contract has earned Qorvis millions of dollars but also some controversy.

FBI agents searched the firm’s offices in December, seeking to find out whether Qorvis was complying with federal laws that regulate their work.

Iler declined to comment on her work, and a Qorvis spokesman did not return a call for comment.

Genetic Modification. After four months on the job, former Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.) is splicing some new personnel into the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

He has tapped Brent Del Monte, a lobbyist at Washington Council Ernst and Young, as the group’s vice president for federal government relations, and William Lucas, a lawyer at Pfizer Inc., as general counsel.

Amit Sachdev, formerly an official at the Food and Drug Administration, has also signed on as executive vice president of health and will handle policy development.

Previously, Greenwood had brought on Scott Whitaker, formerly chief of staff at Health and Human Services. And one-time Greenwood Congressional aide Alan Eisenberg, joined the group in October as executive vice president for advocacy and operations, three months after Greenwood announced that he was planning to take over the helm of BIO this year.

“We’re fully loaded now,” said Whitaker, BIO’s chief operating officer. “We are in the process of doing some internal planning to prepare how we’re going to align BIO on the issues. … But we’ve got the right people in place now to gear up for that.”

Motorola Motors On. To handle a growing roster of major issues including a Telecommunications Act rewrite, Motorola has staffed up and reorganized its Washington operation.

In recent weeks, the Schaumburg, Ill.-based high-tech company has added Julie Kabous, formerly with the American Gas Association; Rachelle Schroeder, previously an aide to Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.); and Jodi Hanson Bond, who served as a deputy assistant secretary of Energy in the Bush administration.

Bond will handle telecommunications and spectrum issues, including Motorola’s push to free up spectrum by legislating a date for the conversion of television broadcasters from analog to digital transmission.

Kabous will work with Congress and the executive branch on Homeland Security-focused technology projects. And Schroeder will focus on appropriations matters, in particular Homeland Security.

They join an existing team that includes recently promoted Bill Anaya, the senior director of Congressional operations; Jim Goldstein; and Katie Hanvey, director of Congressional operations.

Anaya said Motorola has expanded his team “to be able to address the pressing telecom and homeland security needs that are before the Congress right now.”

Solo Act. John Magnus, formerly a lawyer and lobbyist with the firm Dewey Ballantine, has launched his own enterprise called Tradewins, focused on — as its name suggests — trade advocacy.

“I was there 15 years,” he said of his time at Dewey Ballantine. “I wanted to have more flexibility.”

Magnus said he plans to keep his operation solo and will do legal, lobbying and other consulting work. His recent clients include aerospace manufacturing company GE Transportation and ANSAC, a Westport, Conn.-based exporter of soda ash.

K Street Moves. Sarah Lenti, formerly with the National Security Council, and Darren Grubb, a Bush campaign veteran and former Commerce Department aide, have joined the lobbying practice at Bryan Cave Strategies, a new subsidiary of the law firm Bryan Cave. … Dorothy Walsh, formerly a senior adviser to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), has joined the lobbying team of Denver-based Qwest Communications as director of Congressional affairs. A former in-house lobbyist for Ameritech Corp., Walsh will advocate for Qwest on Capitol Hill and will report to Michael Rubin, Qwest’s vice president for federal affairs.