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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Vin Weber


Vin Weber

    Project for the New American Century: Founding member
    Empower America: Cofounder
    National Endowment for Democracy: Chair
    Clark & Weinstock: Managing partner

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Vin Weber is a former congressman (R-MN) and a partner at the influential Washington lobbying firm Clark & Weinstock,. A so-called "superlobbyist" and a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney's failed 2012 presidential bid, Weber is a prominent inside-the-beltway player who has long supported rightist and neoconservative initiatives, including the campaigns of the Project for the New American Century. He co-founded—with Jeane Kirkpatrick, William Bennett, and Jack KempEmpower America, a rightist policy outfit "devoted to ensuring that government actions foster growth, economic well-being, freedom, and individual responsibility." He was a senior fellow at the Bradley-funded Progress and Freedom Foundation and served as the chair of the board of the National Endowment for Democracy. Weber has also worked for the Aspen Institute, where he has served as co-director of the domestic policy project, and the Humphrey Institute, a policy institute based at the University of Minnesota.[1]

In August 2011, former Governor Romney (R-MA) announced that Weber would serve as his "special advisor on policy" for his 2012 presidential campaign. "I am proud to have Vin's support," said Romney. "Vin will be a trusted adviser and I look forward to working with him to help get our country moving in the right direction again." The move led some observers to speculate whether Weber would serve as Romney's chief of staff in the event the former governor won the presidential election.[2]

Romney's decision to tap Weber was part of a trend that saw several Republicans during the 2012 primary campaign call on neoconservatives and other hawkish ideologues for policy advice (see Peter Certo, "Rise of the Vulcans Redux," Right Web, December 19, 2011). Comparing Romney's team to that of rival presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Forward reported: "Gingrich's foreign policy team, announced in late November [2011], may also billboard an attempt to appeal to Jews. It includes Middle East hawks like onetime Dick Cheney adviser David Wurmser and Iran expert Ilan Berman, editor of a journal published by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a right-wing Israel-focused think tank. Gingrich hasn't cornered the market on right-wing, pro-Israel supporters. Philip Rosen, former national chairman of American Friends of Likud, hosted a $10,000-per-head fundraiser for Romney in September. And Romney's foreign policy team includes such neoconservative stalwarts as former defense policy advisory board member Eliot Cohen and Dan Senor, former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq."[3]

As a chief lobbyist at Clark & Weinstock—whose clients have included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (who hired the firm to help protect California military bases from closure), Microsoft, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers—Weber is frequently engaged in high-profile political issues. In late 2004, Public Citizen mentioned Weber in connection with various allegedly inappropriate donations made to Tom DeLay's legal-defense fund. According to the watchdog group, Weber contributed $1,000 to the fund despite the fact that House rules prohibit payments to legal defense funds from lobbyists. "It's a clear-cut violation of House rules," opined Public Citizen about the payments.[4]

According to a 2000 Center for Public Integrity report, Weber is considered a "super-lobbyist" in Washington. Weber and Kenneth Duberstein, both of whom have served as political advisers for John McCain, "together are currently registered to lobby for more than fifty-five corporate and special interests, many of them with concerns before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which McCain chairs."[5]

Weber got his start in politics in 1974, when he served as a press secretary for Rep. Tom Hagedorn. After serving as a campaign manager for Sen. Rudy Boschwitz from 1978-1980, Weber won a seat in the House in 1981, representing Minnesota until 1993.

Weber's career on K Street began shortly after he retired from the House. In 1994 he opened Clark & Weinstock's first office in Washington, where he had an immediate impact. In a 1998 exposé about lobbyists, the New York Times highlighted the work of Weber: "Former Representative Vin Weber is among the most successful of a new crop of Republican lobbyists. Working as a tag team of political influence, Mr. Weber often pairs up with [New York Democrat Thomas] Downey for clients, including Microsoft. He works out of the gleaming offices of Clark & Weinstock, a Wall Street consulting firm that did not have a Washington outpost until Mr. Weber opened one in 1994, after he retired from Congress. As one of Mr. Gingrich's best friends in the House, the Minnesota Republican was in immediate demand. 'People were looking for G.O.P. consultants and lobbyists all over the place,' Mr. Weber said in an interview. Mr. Weber now heads an eight-man office that reported lobbying revenues of $2.2 million in 1997.

"Like Mr. Downey, Mr. Weber is still an inside player, jetting off earlier this year to join Mr. Gingrich at a Republican event in Palm Springs, Calif. And he, too, finds his new profession more rewarding in many ways. 'With no disrespect to Congress,' Mr. Weber said, 'not everything you do as a Congressman is very exciting.'" [6]

According to his biography on the website of the National Endowment for Democracy, where he serves as a board member, "Weber has been at the center of American government for nearly two decades." Since his retirement from the House in 1993, "he has represented some of America's strongest and most entrepreneurial companies, as well as public interest groups serving children, medical professionals, and cancer victims. In addition, business, political, and media leaders continually seek his insight and guidance on domestic and global affairs."[7]

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Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Sources

[1] Humphrey School, "Vin Weber," http://www.hhh.umn.edu/people/vweber/.

[2] Race for 20102, "Romney Announces Vin Weber as Special Adviser on Policy," August 24, 2011, Auhttp://race42012.com/2011/08/24/romney-announces-vin-weber-as-special-adviser-on-policy/

[3] Nathan Guttman, "Gingrich and Adelson Forge Alliance," Forward, December 8, 2011, http://forward.com/articles/147533/?p=all.

[4] Eric Schmitt, "States and Communities Battling Another Round of Base Closings," New York Times, March 20, 2005; Holly Bailey, and Michael Isikoff. "Delay: More Cash and More Questions," Daily Beast, December 13, 2004, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2004/12/12/delay-more-cash-and-more-questions.html.

[5] Tom Paine, March 8, 2000.

[6] Jill Abramson and Alison Mitchell, "K'Street." New York Times, September 29-30, 1998.

[7] NED, "Vin Weber," http://www.ned.org/about/board/vin-weber.

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Vin Weber Résumé

    Affiliations

    • Humphrey Institute: Senior Fellow
    • National Endowment for Democracy: Board member; former chair
    • Empower America: Co-Founder
    • George W. Bush Campaign: Adviser
    • Project for the New American Century: Letter on War on Terrorism: Signatory, 2001
    • Project for the New American Century: Letter to Gingrich and Lott on Iraq: Signatory, 1998
    • Project for the New American Century: Letter to President Clinton on Iraq: Signatory, 1998
    • Project for the New American Century: Statement of Principles: Signatory, 1997
    • Aspen Institute Domestic Strategy Group: Co-Chairman
    • Center of the American Experiment: Senior Fellow
    • German Marshall Fund: Member of Board of Trustees
    • National Public Radio: Member of the Board
    • Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government: Member of Visiting Committee
    • George Washington University National Council for Political Management: Member
    • Progress and Freedom Foundation: Former Senior Fellow
    • Senator Rudy Boschwitz Campaign: Manager and Chief Minnesota Aide, 1978-1980

    U.S. Government

    • National Commission on Public Service: Member
    • U.S. House of Representatives: Minnesota Congressman, 1981-1993; Founder of Conservative Opportunity Society
    • U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz: Senior aid, 1977-1980
    • U.S. Representative Tom Hagedorn: Press Secretary, 1974-1976

    Business

    • ITT Educational Services: Board Member
    • Department 56: Board Member
    • Clark and Weinstock: Managing Partner for Washington, D.C.
    • The Murray County Herald: Co-Publisher, 1976-1978
    • Weber Publishing Co.: President

    Education

    • University of Minnesota

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