U.S. Chamber Hires Bush’s Attorney General To Help Weaken Ban On Corporate Bribery

As ThinkProgress reported in October, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing to overhaul the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the government’s main enforcement mechanism to stop American-based multinational firms from bribing foreign governments in order to win special business advantages. The Chamber thinks the law is too burdensome for American businesses and makes them less competitive compared to foreign companies, which are freer to engage in corruption.

The Blog of Legal Times reports the Chamber has now enlisted a powerful ally to fight the scourge of anti-corruption — President Bush’s Attorney General Michael Mukasey:

Debevoise & Plimpton, where Mukasey is a partner, filed lobbying registration papers on his behalf this month, according to Senate records. The registration is for the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform and is effective back to March 3. It covers possible FCPA amendments and other issues “related to criminal law and policies affecting U.S. corporations.” […]

Harold Kim, senior vice president at the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, said he’s pleased with Mukasey’s hiring. “He brings a wealth of experience on these matters given his past positions as attorney general of the United States as well as chief judge of the Southern District of New York,” Kim said in an interview. “I think he’ll be a good advocate as part of our overall efforts to secure some more clarity and certainty with respect to the current statute.”

The Chamber may have decided to take on the FCPA now because President Obama’s Department of Justice has decided to do what Bush’s Department of Justice under Mukasey didn’t — thoroughly enforce the law. Under Obama, the department collected more than $1 billion in fines during fiscal year 2010, the most the government has collected in the law’s 38-year history, and more than ten times the $87 million collected in 2007 by the Bush Administration.