Washington Babylon — March 10, 2009, 8:44 am

Dick Gephardt, Labor and Lobbying

I posted an item last week about former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, who had been very pro-labor during his long tenure in Congress. I noted that he’s now a lobbyist at the Gephardt Group and that he had recently signed up to represent the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is a leading opponent of the Employee Free Choice Act, “which is the top legislative priority of Gephardt’s old friends in the labor movement.”

Catherine Goode of the Gephardt Group emailed to say that the firm had been “working for NBC and the Chamber’s coalition – a coalition that includes labor – for intellectual property enforcement and protection for over a year. Our work is not by any means anti-labor – they’re a member of the coalition.”

It’s called the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy and you can read more (including membership list) here. Last year the coalition worked on a bill that was signed into law – Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (aka “Pro IP bill), passed by UC in the Senate and under Suspension in the House. There were a zillion labor groups favoring the bill.

Fair enough. The item suggested that Gephardt might be working against the interests of labor and that looks not to be the case.

I still think Gephardt’s post-congressional career looks uncomfortably like that of Tom Daschle’s. (Among his current clients is Goldman Sachs; according to the disclosure form he’s offering a hand on TARP.) A 2007 account in CQ noted:

In 2003, Richard A. Gephardt cosponsored a resolution that put the “Armenian genocide” in company with the Holocaust and mass deaths in Cambodia and Rwanda. In 2000, the Missouri lawmaker backed a similar measure, and in a letter to then-Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., Gephardt said he was “committed to obtaining official U.S. government recognition of the Armenian genocide.”

Now Gephardt is a foreign agent lobbying on behalf of Turkey, and he’s got a different view of the world. He’s working to stymie the latest version of an Armenian genocide resolution.

For a broader look at Gephardt’s lobbying efforts, check out this article from the Washington Post.

Most people know that life after Congress can be very lucrative, and it certainly has been for Gephardt, 66, who just built a house in Sonoma County, Calif. But few people know what that work entails. In Gephardt’s case, it involves an astonishing array of projects. He has brokered labor settlements, cleared the way for corporate acquisitions, represented a foreign country and pushed for cutting-edge health programs — only some of which fit the stereotype of lobbying, the former lawmaker and his new colleagues say.

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