More than a dozen high-ranking members of the Biden administration previously worked as registered foreign agents, according to a new report obtained exclusively by The Federalist. The report was published by the Biden administration watchdog “Inside Biden’s Basement,” itself a project of the nonprofit Transparency Action Fund.
Titled, “Foreign Agents Lurking Inside Biden’s Basement,” the group’s new report outlines the networks of at least 13 officials under President Joe Biden who were once paid to represent foreign interests and registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Their prior clients range from Iran and Kazakhstan to Canada and Mexico.
FARA records show White House Deputy Counsel Jonathan Su’s law firm paid out $30,000 a month to Mercury Public Affairs on behalf of the government of Kazakhstan in 2018. Biden Special Assistant Erin Pelton was employed with Mercury in the same year and worked on behalf of both Kazakhstan and Qatar, according to public government documents.
In 2006, Biden’s U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski’s public affairs firm, McGuireWoods Consulting, was paid nearly $140,000 over a six-month period by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO).
“As Americans experience one Biden-era crisis pile on top of another, the President’s Cabinet, spokesmen, and aides behind the scenes seem to put America last,” said Derrick Hollie, the communications director for Inside Biden’s Basement. “It is instructive for Americans watching their needs take a back seat to know which of those officials Inside Biden’s Basement have represented nations other than our own yet now have tremendous power over their lives.” Hollie worked previously in Trump’s Department of Transportation.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires that anyone lobbying on behalf of a foreign client disclose their business to the Department of Justice. Filings regularly demonstrate the extent of bipartisan corruption in Washington. As the Washington establishment sought to undercut former President Donald Trump, FARA enforcement kicked into high gear amid investigations into Trump officials such as Paul Manafort.
Those efforts, however, highlighted how deeply entrenched foreign interests are in Washington, D.C., also ensnaring Tony Podesta, a top Democrat lobbyist and the brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Manafort, Tony Podesta, and Rick Gates failed to disclose their lobbying efforts on behalf of interests connected to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. While the media focuses heavily on the very real problems of foreign influence among certain Trump associates, far less attention is paid to the damning connections shared by Biden officials.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, the most senior of those listed, represented five international clients including the Union Nacional de Productores de Hortalizas in Mexico; the Government of Brazil; VIASA, previously known as Venezuelan International Airways; the International Commodities Clearing House, Ltd. in the United Kingdom; and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT).
Biden adviser Anita Dunn, another senior official highlighted who returned to the West Wing in May, previously served the government of Ontario. Dunn had also voluntarily coordinated public relations strategy for disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. While not an international client, the ex-movie mogul was convicted of rape in 2020 and was sentenced to 23 years in prison at 67 following testimonies from six women against him. Dunn was also reported by the Wall Street Journal to admire former Chinese dictator Mao Zedong as a favorite political philosopher.
Other officials named in the report include U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake and U.S. Representative to the European Union Mark Gitenstein. Flake, who served a single term in the Senate from Arizona, previously represented Rossing Uranium Ltd., a Nambian mining operation with connections to the government of Iran. Gitenstein worked for the Swiss-headquartered food giant Nestle.
Six other administration officials who were registered foreign agents include Robert Bauer, the co-chair of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court; Melissa Schwartz, the communications director for the Department of the Interior; Natalie Wyeth Earnest, counselor to the Treasury secretary; Maria Fabiana Jorge, alternate executive director of the Inter-American Development Bank; Zev Karlin-Neumann, a communications adviser for the Domestic Policy Council, and Steven Ricchetti, counselor to Biden.
While the report names 13 officials who were registered foreign agents before their tenure in the administration, the report is not exhaustive. The administration is actively working to conceal the identities of presidential appointees more than 18 months into Biden’s first term.
Last month, a separate conservative legal group, America First Legal (AFL), launched a litigation blitz to unearth the names, titles, positions, resumes, salaries, ethics pledges, waivers, and agreements of all appointees under Biden.
In an interview with The Federalist at the time, AFL Vice President and General Counsel Gene Hamilton compared the effort to compile records of administration officials to ProPublica’s “Trump Town” database, which made the same information of nearly 4,000 presidential appointees publicly accessible.
“People, you know, highlighted it and used it to try to write stuff up about people who were trying earnestly to execute President Trump’s agenda,” Hamilton said. “Well, the same has not really been true for the Biden administration. And so this is about transparency.”
AFL’s efforts are not connected to the database being compiled by Inside Biden’s Basement.