Two former Members of Congress got a close-up look at the civil war in Liberia last week when they met with embattled Liberian President Charles Taylor.
Ex-Reps. Ronnie Shows (D-Miss.) and Bob Clement (D-Tenn.) were among a handful of Americans who visited the country as part of a weeklong humanitarian trip through Africa.
But Shows and Clement do not plan to lobby on behalf of Taylor in Washington. The two former lawmakers were there on a humanitarian trip and were acting as ‘private citizens,” Shows said.
Still, Shows said he agreed with Taylor that the United States should send troops into the country to keep the peace before the dictator’s expected departure. When they arrived in Liberia, Taylor assured the former lawmakers that he would leave the country if the Bush administration agreed to provide troops to keep the peace while a new leader could be installed.
‘I tend to agree that they need some
troops in there before he leaves,” Shows said. ‘Basically, you would have a vacuum in there. It would be chaos. I didn’t hear one person saying, ‘Leave now without troops being there.’”
Shows left Liberia less than 48 hours before fighting resumed in the war-torn country. ‘We were just listening and gathering information,” he said.
Shows and Clement, accompanied by two former Democratic Congressional candidates — Joe Turnham from Alabama and Rick Carne of Ohio — were in Africa to attend a summit in Nigeria when they were invited by religious leaders to make the trip to Liberia.
‘They showed up and asked if we could come to Liberia to give them some help,” Shows said.
Shows and Clement stayed in Liberia for three days and two nights, departing last Thursday.
When Shows arrived back in Mississippi and turned on the radio, he learned that rebel troops had started attacking Taylor loyalists not far from where they had met.
Fighting erupted Monday around the U.S. diplomatic compound, which was hit by one mortar round. U.S. Marines based in Spain were dispatched to provide security.
Shows and Clement, who briefed the State Department about their visit upon their arrival in the United States, had been planning to organize a Congressional delegation to Liberia to meet with Taylor. But now that fighting has resumed, those plans are on hold.
New Joint Homeland Security Lobbying Operation Launched. Stonebridge International and BKSH & Associates have joined forces to tackle the still-emerging homeland security lobbying sector.
And to lead the operation, known as Civitas Group, the firms have tapped international security and counter-terrorism expert Michael Hershman, who is well-known on Capitol Hill for being the senior investigator for the Senate Watergate Committee in the early 1970s.
Civitas will be co-chaired by Sandy Berger, chairman of Stonebridge International, and Charlie Black, chairman of BKSH. Berger served as national security adviser in the Clinton administration, and Black has been a longtime adviser to GOP presidents.
Civitas’ advisory board has another high-profile terrorism expert as its chairman, former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.).
Adding a Carolina Legacy. The chief of staff to then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), Jimmy Broughton, has resurfaced on K Street as part of the expansion of the government relations practice Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice.
The firm, founded in 1876 in Winston-Salem, N.C., already has many Carolina connections. Burley Mitchell, former North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice, Jeff Lane, former chief of staff to Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), and Ashley Thrift, former chief of staff to Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), are all affiliated with the firm’s government affairs practice.
Broughton himself is the grandson of a former Tar Heel governor and Senator, J. Melville Broughton (D), and son of another former North Carolina governor, J. Melville Broughton Jr. (D).
Leaving the Executive Branch. Emilio Gonzales, a top national security aide in the Bush White House, is leaving the administration to fill a top government affairs position at the law firm Tew Cardenas.
Gonzales advised President Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on security matters facing the Western Hemisphere.
Additionally, the firm snagged Sloan Rappaport, who is a senior policy adviser to Commerce Secretary Donald Evans. He will start at the firm on Aug. 1.
On a New Track. Former FedEx Corp. lobbyist Marque Ledoux has switched to a new mode of transportation, representing the interests of one of the nation’s largest railroads, Norfolk Southern.
At the railroad, he will be the assistant vice president of public affairs based out of Norfolk’s D.C. office.
Leaving the Hill. Laura Quattlebaum, former legislative director to Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), has joined the Troutman Sanders Public Affairs Group.
She will divide her time between D.C. and Georgia, concentrating on appropriations and other legislative lobbying efforts.