Sunday, January 15, 2006

Lobbying: The Web Widens

Newsweek : "Jan. 23, 2006 issue - Ohio Rep. Robert Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran. Who asked him to? A convicted airplane broker who had just taken the congressman and a top aide on an expense-paid trip to London, NEWSWEEK has learned. Ney's lawyer confirmed to NEWSWEEK that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records on Ney's February 2003 trip paid for by Nigel Winfield, a thrice-convicted felon who ran a company in Cyprus called FN Aviation. Winfield was seeking to sell U.S.-made airplane spare parts to the Iranian government´┐Ża deal that would have needed special permits because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran. Ney's lawyer, Mark Tuohey, said Ney had no idea of Winfield's criminal past, which included a 1982 conviction for trying to swindle Elvis Presley in an airplane deal and two more in the late 1980s for tax evasion. Tuohey said there was 'absolutely nothing improper' about Ney's raising the issue of Iranian sanctions with Powell and other Bush administration officials. At the time, there had been a number of civilian plane crashes in Iran attributable to a lack of spare parts. Ney, who had a longstanding interest in Iran, considered easing sanctions to allow spare-parts sales a 'humanitarian' matter, Tuohey said."

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