The Bush administration is currently in discussions to send $6 billion in arms to Taiwan. Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sent a letter to President Bush, urging him to “add more submarines and new fighter jets to the package” as Taiwan had requested:
“The package will not include submarines or new F-16 aircraft. I urge the administration to reconsider this decision, in light of its previous commitment to provide submarines and America’s previous sales of F-16s,” McCain said. “These sales — which could translate into tens of thousands of jobs here at home — would help retain America’s edge in the production of advanced weaponry and represent a positive sign in these difficult economic times.”
McCain’s desire to increase arms sales to Taiwan, however, raises questions about yet another conflict of interest involving his chief foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, who previously lobbied for the Taiwanese government. The Washington Post reports:
In 2005, Scheunemann signed the contract between his firm, Orion Strategies LLC, and Taiwan’s Washington office. On June 4 of this year, his partner, Mike Mitchell, signed a renewal of the contract, which calls for quarterly payments of 50,000.
Scheunemann represented Taiwan from 2003 to March at Orion. The LA Times reported that McCain has pushed for pro-Taiwan legislation, as Orion’s lobbying forms cite “bills benefiting Orion’s other foreign clients: Latvia, Macedonia, Romania and Taiwan.”
Scheunemann introduced McCain to a representative of Taiwan as it lobbied for free trade. In all, Scheunemann’s firm has lobbied McCain or his aides on at least 47 occasions since 2001 on behalf of the governments of Taiwan, Macedonia, Romania and Latvia.
Matt Duss notes that Scheunemann has lobbied for Lockheed-Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, which manufactures the F-16s that McCain is demanding the U.S. give to Taiwan. Scheunemann had also been employed as a lobbyist for Georgia at the same time he was providing foreign policy advice to McCain, lobbying McCain himself nearly 50 times between 2004 and 2007.