One day before the House took up an anti-South African resolution last September, Donald DeKieffer, Washington lawyer/lobbyist employed by the South African information Department, delivered a critical fact sheet to Ed Fuelner, staff director of the House Republican Study Committee.
Fuelner, five months earlier, had taken a 10-day trip to South Africa paid for the South African Foundation, a privately financed organization whose Washington office does public relations work and some lobbying.
Fuelner gave a copy of the fact sheet to Rep. Philip M. Crane (R-Ill.), a conservative sympathetic to the South African government, who with his wife and five other members of Congress had been given a subsidized tour of South Africa in January, 1975.
Crane took the floor to speak against the resolution and, in the course of his remarks, introduced into the debate the critical fact sheet drafted by DeKieffer, the South African lobbyist. He did not identify the source of that part of his speech.
Taking the floor after Crane was Rep. John Dent (D-Pa.). Dent is an old friend of DeKieffer, a relationship that both men say goes back to the lobbyist's representation of specially steels that are important to Dent's Pittsburgh-area district.
Dent, too, had traveled to South Africa the previous year on a privately subsidized trip that DeKieffer had made a small $100 contribution to Dent's relection campaign, and would make another one a month later.
DeKieffer also had given Dent a copy of his pro-South Africa fact sheet and like Crane moments earlier. Dent put it unlabeled into the debate.
DeKieffer was not the only lobbyist working the Hill that day against the resolution. The South African embassy, alerted only 12 hours before the measure came up for a vote, turned out 200 copies of a handsomely printed six-page brochure providing backgound on the Transkei, the South African territory whose recognition was opposed by the House resolution.
The embassy, according to its chief of information, Karl F. Nofke, hand-distributed the brochure to a selected list of House members on the morning of the vote.
The embassy also had received a copy of DeKieffer's critical fat sheet. On Capitol Hill, an embassy attache used it just two hours before the debate in an effort to dissuade the resolution's author, Rep. Stephen Solarz (D.N.Y), and later a Solarz aide from bringing the measure up.
Personal briefings, background papers, subsidized trips, dinners and, on occasion, campaign contributions are the main ingredients of South Africa's increased Capitol Hill lobbying.
In the case of last year's resolution, South Africa's objective was achieved. The resolution, which needed a two thirds vote for approval, failed by 23 votes. Of 11 House members who had visited South Africa on subsidized trips over the previous 22 months, 10 voted against it.
But interviews with members of Congress and their aides who have been involved in the lobby and the trips over the past few years indicate that South Africa's continued success on the Hill looks bleak unless its policies at home are changed.
A spokesman for the South African Foundation, John Howard Chettle, said recently that some subsidized congressional trips "bring to South Africa people of liberal persuasion who in interviews in our country with officials act as catalysts for change."
Even a conservative like Crane, who recently described most congressional criticism of South Africa as "based on lack of knowledge," said more Americans traveling to that country "would tend to exert a pressure for change which is now too slow by our standards."
A subsidized two-week trip to South Africa last November by eight congressional House and Senate staffers, paid for by the host country's Foreign Affairs Association, bears out those judgments.
The staffers spanned the political spectrun, from an aide of former Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif) to an aide of conservative Rep. Jack Kemp (R.N.Y).
According to embassy aide Noffke, who assisted in the scheduling, the congressional staffers "had an opportunity to see the widest range of South African viewpoints I ever saw."
According to Randal Teague, Kemp's top aide, the group discussed the tour the night before they left South Africa - all eight of us were less sympathetic than when we went over."
Teague and another visitor lunched with a South African embassy official after their return to Washington. According to Teague, they told the official what "we felt had to be done, including instituting immediate economic and political reform" for native blacks. He was "unsympathetic to that," Teague added.
Sally Shelton, a legislative aide to Sen. Lolyd Bentsen (D-Texas), came away with even stronger feelings against the present course of the South African government. "The all pervasive security colored my thinking," Shelton said recently, after describing how she had left group sessions to hold covert meetings with black and colored dissidents.
She, too had a follo-up lunch in Washington with embassy officials at which she statedher impressions.
Not all subsidized congressional visits turn out as badly for the South Africans as the November staff trip apparently did.
In January and April, 1975, two congressional groups toured South Africa at the expenses of Werner Ackerman, a South African millionaire businessman. Along with Crane on the first tour were Republican Reps. Bob Wilson (D-Calif), G. William Whitehurst (Va.), Clair Burgener (Calif.), Norman Lent (N.Y.) and William Ketchum (Calif).
On the second tour were Democrats Dent, Richard Ichord (Mo.) and Harold Runnels (N.M).
On his return, Dent announced that "this trip has enable me to envisage a rosy future for economic and political relations between South Africa and the United States.
Ichord, who with Dent took a side trip to Rhodesia, announced he would fight any effort to impose a boycott on U.S. buying of Rhodesian chrome. That, too was a South Africa-supported position.
In September, 1975, when an effort was made to repeal the law guranteeing continued Rhodesian chrome pruchases, Ichord along with Dent and Ketchum led the opposition. Dent, in debate, referred to his visit with Ichord to Rhodesia.
Last September, when the anti South Africa Solarz resolution was up for debate, Ketchum floor-managed the opposition, and Burgener, Dent and Crane spoke against the measure. 0340 add eight-LOBBY-N - TTSKern.
The only recently subsidized traveler who supported the Solarz resolution was Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis), who visited South Africa last year under the auspices of the South African Foundation. Aspin was invited because he was an old friend of Chettle, with whom he had attended Oxford University.
Noffke and Chettle in recent interviews criticized the current atmosphere, saying it has made it difficult for them to recruit congressional visitors.
House rules, for example, now prohibit members from traveling at the expense and that's not considered junketing or mind-bending."
The House ethics committee in 1975 questioned the original sponsor of the congressional travelers - the University of South Africa - because it was supported by government funds. After that, the millionaire stepped forward to foot the bills.
"Quite a number of members are afraid," Chettel said recently. "The thought that they have to announce it to the electorate makes them shrink from it."
Not everyone does turn down a trip.
Rep. Robert Bauman (R-Md.), for example, accepted a trip to South Africa for his wife and himself from the Foreign Affairs Association last November. His going was a front-page story in the Baltimore Sun, followed by an editorial the next day that said, "By taking this trip he opens himself to government suasion and almost guarantees himself on a one-sided picture of the situation in South Africa."
The South African lobbyists operate under one additional inhibition - the foreign agents registration law requires public reports to the Justice Department far more detailed than those filed on Capitol Hill under the domestic lobbying law.
DeKieffer, for example, had to list each contact on the Hill for the latest six-month period. They totaled more than 50, including several with members of Congress or their staffs who had traveled to South Africa.
Chettle's South African Foundation regularly lists dozens of such contacts along with luncheons and dinners with members and staffers.
His reports are so detailed that they list a meeting with former Senate Parliamentarian Floyd Riddick in 1974 to determine "his interest in visiting South Africa and the identity of senators who might be intrested in being contacted for discussions on South Africa can subjects."