Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili claimed today that his government was not doing any lobbying in the United States. This, in spite of widely reported news that Randy Scheunemann, John McCain's foreign policy advisor, has lobbied extensively on behalf of Georgia.
It is no surprise that John McCain declared last month, "We are all Georgians." It is no surprise that Sarah Palin was pushing last week, in an ABC interview, to include Georgia in NATO, even if it meant war with Russia. It is also no surprise that Sarah Palin declared in the ABC interview that she had spoken on the phone with Mr. Saakashvili. Money talks in politics, and the Georgians were spending a lot of it.
As a public service, let us look at how much the Georgian government has paid lobbyists to influence American politicians like John McCain. Perhaps in the process we can also jog Mr. Saakashvili's memory.
Randy Scheunemann, until this May, was co-owner of Orion Strategies LLC, a two-person lobbying firm.
In 2004, the Georgian government paid Orion Strategies $150,000 to lobby the American government to gain NATO membership. The agreement and the US government foreign lobbyist registration form was signed by Randy Scheunemann, President of Orion.
In 2005, the Georgian government paid Orion $240,000 to lobby US decision makers to gain NATO membership. The agreement was signed by Randy Scheunemann.
In 2006, the Georgian government paid Orion $200,000 to lobby US decision makers to gain NATO membership. The agreement and the US government foreign lobbyist registration form was signed by Randy Scheunemann.
On April 17th of this year, while Randy Scheunemann was being paid as John McCain's foreign policy advisor, Scheunemann's firm Orion inked a new deal with the government of Georgia for $200,000. Conveniently, the deal was signed by Scheunemann's partner Michael Mitchell.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, on April 17th of this year, the day Orion inked the deal with Georgia, John McCain spoke on the phone with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili.
So, all told, the government of Georgia has paid Randy Scheunemann's lobbying firm nearly $800,000 to lobby politicians like John McCain. All indications are that it was money well spent. While John McCain insults current NATO member Spain and its prime minister, he is declaring that we are all Georgians while his VP pick is ready to go to war with Russia to get Georgia into NATO.
If John McCain were to be elected president, who do you think will influence American foreign policy more - American citizens or the Georgian government and their paid lobbyists inside the White House?
[Cross posted at my blog.]