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The 1995 Lobbying Hall of Shame BY KEN SILVERSTEIN BACK IN 1852, James Buchanan wrote to another future president, Franklin Pierce, that “the host of contractors, speculators, stockjobbers, and lobby members which haunt the halls of Congress…are sufficient to alarm every friend of this country. Their progress must be arrested.” Buchanan would be horrified if he were alive today. With some twenty thousand lobbyists conducting business in Washington, it’s never been so easy for private interests to purchase favors in the capital. Given this situation, winning a place on the 1995 lobbying hall of shame required truly disgraceful behavior. This in no way limited the number of worthy contenders. So fierce was the competition that Washington & Christian’s lobbying for the Nigerian generals wasn’t sufficiently vile to merit a spot on the final list. I didn’t limit my search to professional lobbyists. I also looked for flagrant cases of influence peddling on the part of members of Congress, many of whom are little more than hired guns for their campaign contributors, and on the part of think tanks, who fulfill the same role for their corporate funders. And the winners are: 10. Bacardi Rum and the Democratic Solidarity Act For years the Bacardi Rum Co. has been seeking a means to sue Pernod Ricard, a French firm that distills rum in Bacardi’ s old plant in Santiago de Cuba. Working with Senator Jesse Helms, chairrhan of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bacardi found its opportunity with the “Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1995.” A key section of the billand one which has no basis in international lawwould allow Cubans who immigrated to the United States after Fidel Castro took power in 1959, and later became American citizens, to use U.S. courts to advance claims on property nationalized by the Cuban government. They could even sue foreign nationals and companies that have indirectly benefited from the use of their former property. Among those drafting the Helms legislation were Ignacio Sanchez, a lawyer for Ken Silverstein is co-editor of CounterPunch and co-author, with Alexander Cockburn, of the forthcoming book, Washington Babylon. Bacardi; Juan Prado, a retired Bacardi executive whose family lost seventy-six million dollars when Castro took power; and Manuel Cutillas, head of Bacardi Rum Co. and of the U.S.-Cuba Business Council. Wayne Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and now at the Center for International Policy, dubbed the Solidarity Act the “Bacardi Claims Act.” The Solidarity Act was passed by both the House and Senate, but the Bacardi-authored provision was stripped before final passage. Look for Helms and the rum maker to try again soon. Bacardi officials were unavailable for comment on the company’s efforts to pass the Solidarity Act. 9. Carol Tucker Foreman and Olestra After serving as assistant secretary of agriculture in the Carter era, Carol Tucker Foreman founded the Safe Food Coalition. She bills herself as a tireless champion of tougher standards on inspection of meat, poultry and fish products. In 1994, it was revealed that Foreman had been discreetly lobbying on behalf of Monsanto and its controversial milk-inducing cow drug, recombinant bovine growth hormone. Last year, Foreman quietly picked up another well-heeled client, Procter & Gamble, and in doing so embraced the cause of olestraa P&G fat substitute. The FDA has been reviewing olestra since the mid-1980s. If approved it will mean billions for the company. Foreman’s standing as a consumer activist has served her corporate client well. She arranged for activists to attend luncheons P&G has been holding around the country, where well-known chefs whipped up meals cooked with olestra. Dieticians and nutritionists were also on hand to promote the virtues of the product. But since olestra is still not approved by the FDA, participants at these ban quets were required to sign statements freeing P&G of liability in the event of any untoward reaction. The FDA approved olestra in January of 1996. Critics charge the fat substitute reduces the body’s absorption of key nutrients and that eating even small amounts can cause gastrointestinal problems. Foreman did not return phone calls to discuss her work for Procter & Gamble. 8. Heritage Foundation and Coal Mine Safety Coal mining is still a very dangerous occupation, but thanks to the Coal Mine Safety and Health Law of 1969, it’s not as bad as it used to be. Since that bill was passed, deaths from mine accidents have been reduced by more than three-quarters, from four hundred in 1969 to eighty-four in 1994. In the name of combating “red tape” and the “regulatory nightmare” faced by business, the Heritage Foundation would gut the law. The Foundation’s labor policy analyst, Mark Wilson, urges the abolition of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and a reduction . in inspections of underground mines from four to one per year. This, Wilson says bizarrely, will produce “safer work places” for miners. Not even the National Mining Association, the owners’ group, backs the Heritage Foundation’s proposal. Its president, Richard Lawson, told the House subcommittee on workforce protection that he supported changes at the MSHA but did not want to see it eliminated. According to Colman McCarthy of the Washington Post, Wilson’s appearance before the same House subcommittee last August provoked laughter and groans from a group of miners who had traveled to Washington from the coal fields of Appalachia: “Many [of the miners] were attending in the back of the hearing room because scarce seats were taken by lobbyists, coal company officials and their retinues. What put the miners over the edge was a reply by the Heritage think tanker to a question from Cali fornia Democrat Lynn Wool sey: ‘Have you ever been in a coal mine?’ Long pause. ‘No.'” Reached at the Heritage Foundation, Wilson denied that he was an enemy of worker safety. “Not all busi nesses are bad employers,” he said. “The bottom line in centive to make a business safe 10 MAY 17, 1996