Former US Rep Jeff Miller violated federal law after he registered as an agent of Qatar six months after he left office; a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group has filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice claiming it.
Miller, who served eight terms representing Florida’s 1st congressional district, joined the lobbying firm of McDermott Will and Emery in April 2017. In July 2017, the lobbying firm filed documents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act stating Miller would be one of three employees providing services in the interests of Qatar.
The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group created to reduce the influence of money in politics, alleges Miller violated a federal law known as the “revolving door ban” by registering as a foreign agent less than a year after he left office. The law bans former government employees, including members of Congress, from aiding or advising a foreign entity with the intent to influence a member of the US government.
The penalty for violating the law can be up to five years in prison or a fine. A Daily Beast article from July about how former members of Congress-turned-lobbyists are using campaign funds to make donations to sitting members of Congress pointed out the possible violation. Miller told the website via email that he never made contacts on behalf of Qatar during the year-long “cooling off” period. However, the Campaign Legal Center said in its complaint that it doesn’t matter that he didn’t make any contacts during the year-long period because “behind-the-scenes” aid and advice in support of Qatar’s lobbying is also prohibited under the law.
“Even if Rep. Miller never made lobbying contacts on Qatar’s behalf, any ‘behind the scenes’ services in support of the foreign government’s lobbying or influence efforts would nonetheless violate the Act,” the complaint said.
The complaint pointed out that the lobbying firm de-registered one of Miller’s colleagues as a foreign agent in September 2017 because he had not worked on behalf of Qatar or would in the future.
“McDermott filed no such statement asserting that Rep. Miller failed to conduct activities on Qatar’s behalf during any period,” the complaint said.
The complaint asks the Department of Justice to open an investigation to determine if Miller violated the law and take any action necessary.
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