Tags: 2020 Elections | China | joe lieberman | zte | lobbying | senate | campaign

Report: Joe Lieberman, ZTE Lobbyist, Advises Son's Senate Campaign in Ga.

joe lieberman looks to his left while listening during a news conference
Retired Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. (AP)

By    |   Monday, 21 October 2019 03:54 PM

Retired Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., is now a paid lobbyist for Chinese tech behemoth ZTE Corp. — but he is also advising his son in a special U.S. Senate race in Georgia as he seeks to become the first Democrat elected in two decades.

Joe Lieberman, 77, who retired in 2013 after four terms in the Senate, and two associates were paid $170,000 in the last year to lobby for ZTE, Roll Call reported Tuesday.

He is a registered lobbyist for ZTE through the Kasowitz Benson Torres law firm.

The Trump administration fined ZTE $1 billion last year for selling products to North Korea and Iran — and Congress banned the company from providing products to the U.S. government on national security concerns.

But Joe Lieberman is advising his son, Matt, who is running in a special election next year for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

He hopes to become the first Democrat to win in a Senate race in the Peach State in 20 years.

Matt Lieberman acknowledged the issues involving his father, ZTE and his Senate campaign.

"There are entirely legitimate and serious security concerns that need to be addressed, and I think ZTE is trying to address them," Matt Lieberman told Roll Call. "They might succeed, and they might fail."

Matt Lieberman added that a wall separated his father's ZTE work and his role as a campaign adviser.

"If I am fortunate enough to be trusted with this Senate seat by the people of Georgia, I will, of course, abide stringently by all Senate ethics rules," he told Roll Call. "If there's ever a gray area, I will err on the side of propriety."

ZTE paid Lieberman and two other associates $150,000 for the last quarter of 2018 and $120,000 for the first quarter of 2019, according to the report. The firm said in a filing this month that the Chinese company remained a client.

While in Congress, Lieberman was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

He said, however, that he registered as a ZTE lobbyist out of an "excess of caution."

"I and my firm are conducting an independent assessment of national security concerns raised by lawmakers and others with regard to ZTE's products and business activities in the United States," Lieberman told Roll Call in a statement in August after declining an interview request.

"In no way are we engaging or have we been asked or agreed to engage in lobbying on behalf of ZTE."

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Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., 77, and two associates were paid $170,000 in the last year to lobby for ZTE, according to Roll Call.
joe lieberman, zte, lobbying, senate, campaign, georgia
Monday, 21 October 2019 03:54 PM
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