Earlier this week I wrote a brief post about lobbying activity from Former Senator Bob Dole that served to hurt our veterans and their families. That activity deserves more attention and a more detailed post. Bob Dole isn't running for reelection in North Carolina, but his wife is. He may have earned the 6-figure income from the lobbying contract, but it is Elizabeth Dole's inability/refusal/lack of desire to push legislation to protect military families that is truly disturbing.
When Bob Dole left public life he pursued a lucrative career influencing his former colleagues in Washington as a lobbyist. In 2007 Washingtonian Magazine listed him as #2 in their list of Washington's 50 top lobbyists.
2. Robert Dole, Alston & Bird. The onetime presidential candidate and Republican Senate majority leader let it be known after leaving office that he was willing to promote anything from Viagra to Visa to Dunkin’ Donuts. Sure enough, of all the US senators turned lobbyists, Bob Dole is at the top.
When many people expressed outrage that the management of our vital seaports was being outsourced to an Arab-owned company, Dubai Ports World, Dole signed on to build public support for the takeover. Dole’s fee from Dubai was $320,000 in 2006. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Dole had accepted a $560,000 fee to help a controversial Russian billionaire under suspicion in Russia for bribery obtain a visa to the United States. Dole, who says he doesn’t lobby his wife or other members of the Senate, persuaded the State Department to grant the visa.
At 83, Dole is described by colleagues as an unreconstructed workaholic who has never been happier—and certainly not more prosperous.
The magazine mentions two of Bob Dole's more recent lobbying jobs. His representation of Dubai Ports World during the time they were bidding to operate America's ports appeared at odds with our current emphasis on national security. He was heavily criticized for his role in the debacle. Dole was also criticized when he accepted payment of over half a million dollars from a Russian billionaire of questionable character to persuade the U.S. State Department to issue the man a visa to travel to this country.
Prior to either of those incidents, Dole contracted with the firm, First Command Financial Services on September 23, 2004. At the time Dole should have been aware that the company was under investigation by the House Financial Services Committee for products they sold to military families. That hearing had been held just two weeks prior on September 9, 2004.
First Command marketed contractual mutual funds to military families a type of fund that can charge almost 50% of first year contributions in fees. The actual product that was being marketed to hundreds of thousands of military families had an expensive insurance policy with low death benefit as well as a savings instrument attached which could build cash value over a period of 20 years. The New York Times referred to the fund as "archaic." [New York Times, 9/10/04; New York Times, 12/10/04; New York Times, 12/16/04; New York Times, 7/20/06]
Bob Dole, signed a contract to lobby for a firm that was under investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives for selling mutual funds that harmed the financial well-being of military families. Hundreds of thousands of families potentially faced tougher financial futures because Bob Dole lobbied the Congress on First Command's behalf. Hearings were already being held to stop First Command in the House.
On October 5, 2004 less than two weeks after Bob Dole signed up to lobby for First Command, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to ban First Command products for military families. The next day - still less than two weeks after Bob Dole was hired by First Command - a Republican senator introduced a bill [S. 2905] in the Senate to accomplish the same thing. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Elizabeth Dole is a member of this committee. When Elizabeth Dole had the chance to get on board with a bill to protect military families from financial harm she did not put her name to the bill.
As important as the military is to the state of North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole would not lend her name and influence in the U.S. Senate to ban a product that preyed on military families. I guess her husband's six figure income from the deal was a bit more important than the financial well-being of the military families in North Carolina.
Timeline of events
9/9/04: House Financial Services Committee Held Hearing To Investigate Products Sold To Military Families By First Command Financial Services
9/23/04: Bob Dole Begins Lobbying For First Command Financial Services
10/5/04: House Overwhelmingly Voted To Ban Product Sold To Military Families By First Command, Company Vowed To Fight Legislation
10/6/04: Republican Senator Introduced Bill In Senate To Ban First Command’s Product, Senator Dole Failed To Co-Sponsor Bill That Was Referred To A Committee She Served On
12/15/04: First Command Penalized $12 Million For Misleading Military Families In Selling Financial Products
7/1/05: Bob Dole’s Registration To Lobby On Behalf Of First Command Terminated
9/29/06: President Bush Signed Law Banning Mutual Funds That First Command Sold To Military Families