Doing Business With Despots

Who are you going to call? The Wexler Group.

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First, we provided a step-by-step guide on how USA*Engage, a coalition of the nation’s biggest exporters, has secretly managed to promote trade with countries such as China, Iran, Burma, Nigeria, and other human rights abusers by apparently drafting legislation, and devising a strategy—with the help of State Department officials—to recruit religious leaders.

Meanwhile, “liberal” superlobbyist Anne Wexler, who runs the USA*Engage campaign, tried to spin our story in the Washington Post, claiming, absurdly, that we just downloaded memos from the USA*Engage Web site, and also suggested that someone must have hacked into her computer (we didn’t).

Now, we’ve discovered more internal memos from USA*Engage. The first exposes its most detailed plan to kill the pro-human rights Religious Persecution Act. The second shows the group’s plan to match corporate lobbyists with members of Congress to recruit co-sponsors for its own bill, which would restrict the use of human rights sanctions.

We’ve also obtained memos that give keen insight into how The Wexler Group, one of the Beltway’s top lobbying groups, operates, including a breakdown of the firm’s total billings for the month of September 1997, and a bizarre transcript of a vaudeville-like “skit” on being successful in Washington that The Wexler Group prepared for the National Franchise Association, which represents Burger King franchise owners. A sample song (to the tune of “Officer Krupke,” from West Side Story):

Dear Senator Max Baucus
I wanted you to know
This minimum wage ruckus
Is just a lot of blow
My workers earn a living wage, it ain’t sub-standard pay
Why’s Ted Kennedy ruining my day?

Ken Silverstein is a Mother Jones contributing writer and co-editor of CounterPunch, a Washington, D.C., investigative newsletter. He is most recently the author of Washington on $10 Million a Day: How Lobbyists Plunder the Nation.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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