Two Ex-Congressmen to Be Election Monitors in Iraq

Posted March 6, 2010 at 2:13pm

Two former House Members will be among the monitors for parliamentary elections in Iraq on Sunday.

Former Rep. Scott Klug, a four-term Republican from Wisconsin, and ex-Rep. Jim Slattery, a six-term Democrat from Kansas, joined election monitors from Sweden, the United Kingdom and Canada in Iraq. They’re going as part of a team from the International Election Monitors Institute, a group founded in 2005 by the United States Association of Former Members of Congress, the Former Members Association of the European Parliament and the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. Pete Weichlein, executive director of both the IEMI and the FMC, said the group had its pick of willing election monitors.

“Given that they’re being deployed into a war zone, we weren’t quite sure how many volunteers we would get and we actually got quite a few,” he said.

He said the two former Members met a number of criteria. The FMC is careful to include both a Democrat and a Republican in each of its programs. He said both Klug and Slattery have been reliable when they have volunteered for other opportunities in the past, and they’re both relatively young, which is helpful in a country where election monitoring can be dangerous. This is Slattery’s second time monitoring an election with the IEMI; his first was at a Ukrainian election a couple of years ago.

Weichlein said the group would have a busy schedule in Iraq. They arrived on Wednesday and had meetings with a wide variety of people before the election, including leaders of the parties participating in the election, representatives from their own embassies, university students who will vote in the election and members of the Iraqi media.

They’ll observe polling stations in Baghdad on Sunday, and following the election they’ll meet with election monitors based around the country to compare notes. Once they’re back, Weichlein hopes the former Members will get a chance to meet with current Members on the relevant committees and officials at the State Department.

Both former Congressmen are now registered lobbyists. Klug is public affairs director at Foley & Lardner, based in Madison, Wis., and Slattery is a partner at Wiley Rein. Weichlein noted that they signed conflict-of-interest waivers that said they would not use the trip, for which they are not paid, to gain business for their firms.