Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fred Thompson defends his lobbying past

By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press WriterTue Jun 26, 5:41 PM ET

Fred Thompson, a likely Republican presidential candidate, on Tuesday defended his work as a Washington lobbyist, telling The Associated Press that lobbying is an important part of life because "government's got their hands in everything."

The actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee added, "Nobody yet has pointed out any of my clients that didn't deserve representation."

Thompson, who likes to cast himself as a political outsider, earned more than $1 million lobbying the federal government for more than 20 years. He lobbied for a savings-and-loan deregulation bill that helped hasten the industry's collapse and a failed nuclear energy project that cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars.

He also was a lobbyist for deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was widely criticized for endorsing "necklacing," the gruesome practice of execution where gasoline-soaked tires are thrown over a person's neck and set ablaze.

In September 1991, Aristide said: "The burning tire, what a beautiful tool! ... It smells good. And wherever you go, you want to smell it."

Aristide became president in Haiti's first democratic elections in 1990, but he was deposed in a military coup a few months later in 1991.

Lobbying records show that in 1991 Thompson called then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu on Aristide's behalf. Thompson was working "in connection with efforts to obtain the restoration of the democratically elected government" of Haiti, the records say. more

As if his three main jobs of politician, lawyer, and lobbyist didn't win him some sort of bottom feeding triple crown already.