Since 1974, 47 percent of former senior officials in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have registered with the Justice Department as foreign agents or worked for firms that had registered, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
"The Office of the United States Trade Representative has become almost a training academy for foreign lobbyists," said Charles Lewis, the center's head, as he released a study last week on the jobs that agency officials have taken after leaving the USTR.
Lewis suggested that USTR officials, their eys on high-paying lobbying jobs, might pull their punches when negotiating with foreign governments. But the group said it has documented no violations of the law or cases in which employment possibilities could be proven to have affected negotiations.
USTR spokesman Timothy O'Leary declined comment on the study, saying it had not been examined by the agency, but added that USTR makes every effort to avoid conflict of interest or impropriety among its officials.
Debate over the "revolving door " at various agencies has gone on for years in Washington, but in recent times, with the U.S. trade deficit stuck above $100 billion a year, it has focused on trade officials who go to work for foreigners. The current system's defenders say foreign parties should have the same rights as Americans to hire lobbyists.
The center's financial backers include foundations, companies and labor unions. According to its study, since 1974, these people, listed with their former USTR positions, have registered as foreign agents.
Charles H. Blum, assistant U.S. trade representative.
William E. Brock III, U.S. trade representative.
Robert Cassidy, general counsel.
Doral Cooper, assistant trade representative.
Donald DeKieffer, general counsel.
John C.L. Donaldson, assistant U.S. trade representative.
William Eberle, special trade representative.
Claud L. Gingrich, general counsel.
Richard Imus, chief textile negotiator.
John Jackson, general counsel.
Stephen Lande, assistant U.S. trade representative.
Robert Lighthizer, general counsel.
David MacDonald, deputy U.S. trade representative.
Harald Malmgren, deputy U.S. trade representative.
Richard Rivers, general counsel.
Michael Samuels, deputy U.S. trade representative.
Steven Sauders, assistant U.S. trade representative.
Michael Smith, deputy U.S. trade representative.
William Walker, deputy U.S. trade representative.
Alan Wolff, deputy U.S. trade representative.
The center also listed former senior USTR officials whose firms are registered as foreign agents. They included:
Judith Bello, general counsel, now at Sidney & Austin.
Alan Holmer, general counsel, now at Sidney & Austin.
William Houston, chief textile negotiator, now at World TradeLink/Bogle & Gates.
Peter Murphy, special negotiator for U.S. and Canada, now at Cassidy & Associates.
Robert Strauss, U.S. trade representative, now at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.
SOURCES: Center for Public Integrity.