The Complexity of Taiwan's Ties With Lobbyists
Taiwan's relationships with its Washington lobbyists are sometimes as complicated and tortuous as its relationship with the U.S. government.
A case in point is the Taiwan Studies Institute (TSI), a think tank with close ties to the Taiwanese government, and its relationship with Cassidy & Associates , one of the biggest lobby operations here.
After the Taiwanese elections in 2000, Cassidy lost a lucrative client, the Taiwan Research Institute. But never fear, it picked up TSI. One of the Cassidy officials working on the account was Carl W. Ford Jr. (Yes, the very same former State Department intelligence chief who, at a recent congressional hearing, described John R. Bolton, President Bush's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as a bully.) The Cassidy folks worked on behalf of TSI until July 2003, when the account was terminated. They picked it up again last year -- sort of.
Ford, executive vice president at Cassidy, has his own consulting company, Ford & Associates , and it is this company that now has the contract with TSI. According to his Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filing with the Justice Department, his company "will provide strategic advice on government relations and public affairs" and meet with U.S. officials interested in U.S.-Taiwan and U.S.-China relations. The two-year contract, worth $1,080,000, calls for Ford to help TSI "in advancing an appreciation of Taiwan's history, cultural uniqueness and democratic development."
Cassidy has also filed under FARA and the lobbying disclosure law for its work on TSI's behalf as a subcontractor to Ford & Associates. According to the Cassidy-Ford contract, all TSI fees paid to Ford would be passed on to Cassidy.
Ford and Gerald S.J. Cassidy said in interviews yesterday that the client wants to work through Ford & Associates.
Ford said that when he was negotiating to reestablish the contract, "I started with the premise that it would be an extension of the Cassidy contract, and I ran into a stone wall." TSI officials "were the ones to suggest to me" that the contract be with Ford & Associates.
"I thought it was odd," Ford said. He and Cassidy think that TSI was afraid of a "bait and switch," that Ford would sign up the client for Cassidy but then go off and work on other jobs.
"We're hired by Carl, and he is directing our work," Cassidy said.
Cassidy & Associates' work for Taiwanese interests over the years has been politically controversial in Taiwan.
Post special correspondent Tim Culpan in Taiwan has tried to interview Lin Cheng-yi , the principal figure in TSI, to ask about the institute's hiring of Ford and Cassidy. Lin, an adviser to Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian, declined to be interviewed. Lin's secretary told Culpan that TSI no longer has any relationship with Cassidy.
Told of that characterization, a Cassidy spokeswoman said it is true: TSI's relationship is with Ford, and Ford has a relationship with Cassidy.