Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s recent speech at the Council on Foreign Relations led many pundits to describe him as the most hawkish, if not neoconservative, candidate in the GOP primary field. But discussion of his foreign policy stance would not be complete without a close examination of the lucrative lobbying, for both domestic and foreign clients, undertaken by his campaign co-chair and senior foreign policy adviser Vin Weber.
Weber, who supported the campaigns of the neoconservative Project For the New American Century and served in Congress from 1981 to 1993, is the CEO and managing partner of Clark & Weinstock, a “strategic advice and consulting” firm whose client list includes, or has included Hyundai Motor Co., Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, American International Group, Gazprom, and JP Morgan Chase & Co.
But Vin Weber’s lobbying expertise isn’t limited to private companies. Clark & Weinstock also represented the interests of Morocco, Greece, the Iraqi Governing Council, Panama, and the United Arab Emirates.
In his January 18, 2005 “Proposal For Representation of United Arab Emirates” (PDF), Weber promised to:
Enhance the reputation and understanding of the UAE as a U.S. strategic ally through major media and other opinion-makers, based mainly in New York and Washington.
Weber advocated portraying the UAE as a U.S. ally in combating terrorism and an observer of human rights, and boasts of his close relationship with DC think tanks. In a section titled “C&W’s Approach,” he writes:
In the area of foreign affairs, we would want to reach out to the Council on Foreign Relations, American Enterprise Institute, The Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Brookings Institution, the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, among others. These are all groups with impecable reputations. Working with them goes well beyond writing a check — if that is even part of the relationship.
And he advises the UAE to “avoid the costly and impactless advertising purchased by other nations” and establish direct relationships with members of the media. Weber suggests holding “message-delivering” meetings with editorial boards, columnists, producers, and news people. Weber said his services would run the UAE $65,000 per month. (His representation of the UAE appears have been terminated on March 30, 2007.)
Weber’s understanding of Washington’s foreign policy circles and the importance of influencing editorial boards is a reflection of his Washington insider status, which, no doubt, played no small role in arranging Pawlenty’s recent speech at the Council on Foreign Relations (Weber sits on the Council’s board). While Weber and Pawlenty’s foreign policy positions are often in line with the more militarist, neoconservative, wing of the GOP, Weber clearly knows that in Washington you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. In 2010, his campaign contributions showed a long list of Republican congressional candidates including Tim Pawlenty’s GOP primary opponent, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).