Lots of firms in Gucci Gulch scrutinizing their client lists today.
Washington lobbyists who represent foreign powers have taken comfort for decades in the fact that the Justice Department rarely goes after them for potentially breaking the law. That all changed on Monday.
The news of Tony Podesta’s resignation from his namesake firm and indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates sent K Street scrambling, as lobbyists rushed to make sure they’re in compliance with the rules. The developments also renewed calls for Congress to pass legislation beefing up the Justice Department’s enforcement of the law, which lawmakers in both parties have derided for lacking teeth.
“Firms are going to be even more careful than they have been in the past in the foreign lobbying arena,” said Trent Lott, the former Senate majority leader who’s now a lobbyist at Squire Patton Boggs, where his foreign clients have included Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Lobbyists may start to be more selective about which foreign clients they’ll work for and avoid ones like the nonprofit that hired the Podesta Group and Mercury. That outfit was ostensibly independent, but prosecutors allege it was really under the control of the Ukrainian president.