Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Trent Lott Lobbies for Treaty He Opposed as Senator

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“If you want a UN on steroids, you want the Law of the Sea Treaty,” then-Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) declared in a 2007 news conference. The treaty, Lott explained, “undermines U.S. sovereignty,” “would create a huge UN bureaucracy” to rule the U.S. private sector and military, “would undermine U.S. military and intelligence operations,” and “would be a huge problem in terms of navigational rights.”

Lott, then just months away from resigning from the Senate, added that he had fought the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) during his entire 34-year political career. “It was bad law” in the 1980s, he said, “and it is today.”

Five years later, however, the man who once claimed that Senate ratification of LOST would “cede our national sovereignty — both militarily and economically,” is lobbying that very body to approve the treaty. “Despite his previous opposition,” writes Lachlan Markay of the Heritage Foundation, “disclosure forms filed for the first quarter of 2012 … show that Lott is one of four lobbyists from the Breaux Lott Leadership Group, a subsidiary of lobbying giant Patton Boggs LLP, pushing for Senate ratification of the treaty.”

What changed Lott’s mind about LOST? The obvious answer is money. Shell Oil Company, which thinks it stands to gain financially from LOST ratification, paid Breaux Lott $80,000 during the first quarter of 2012 to lobby for the treaty. Pike Associates, another lobbying firm, gave Breaux Lott $30,000 to lobby for LOST ratification, at least in part to advance environmental interests. The Pew Charitable Trusts, which hired Pike to lobby for LOST, “pushed hard for the treaty with a campaign headed up by the former head of governmental affairs for the radical environmentalist group Greenpeace,” Markay reports.

Lott’s office, says Markay, “declined to comment on the apparent discrepancy in the former Senator’s position on the issue” when Heritage’s Brian Darling asked about it. Yet it is difficult to think of any other reason that Lott should suddenly support a treaty he had so vehemently opposed for so long.

Indeed, Lott’s departure from the Senate was viewed by many as an attempt to cash in on his years of experience on Capitol Hill. He resigned on December 18, 2007, just two weeks before the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which prohibits legislators from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office, went into effect. On January 7, 2008, he and former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) opened Breaux Lott, and they’ve been raking in the simoleons ever since.

Unfortunately, Lott was right about LOST during his time in the Capitol, and he is now doing a disservice to his country by lobbying for its ratification. As Dot Ward of the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger explains:

The U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) has been around for years having been ratified by 153 countries, but never ratified by the U.S. Senate. LOST created the International Seabed Authority giving it total jurisdiction over all the oceans and everything in them, including the ocean floor with “all” its riches (“solid, liquid or gaseous mineral resources”) along with the power to regulate seven-tenths of the world’s surface. LOST would levy international taxes, impose production quotas, govern ocean research and create a multinational court to render and enforce its judgments.

These were the very reasons Lott gave for opposing LOST ratification in 2007. He pointed out that if the United States joined LOST it would have to pay 25 percent of the cost for the treaty’s implementation but would not have proportional representation on its various assemblies and tribunals. Instead, other countries, including many ruled by corrupt and tyrannical regimes, would be able to use LOST to penalize American businesses and the U.S. military. Then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Lott remarked, “acknowledged the possibility that a Law of the Sea conference could rule adversely and harm U.S. operational planning activities and our security.”

Perhaps Lott has reasons other than the pursuit of pelf for now pushing for LOST ratification; but if so, he isn’t letting on what they are. Should Lott succeed in subjecting the United States to the “UN on steroids,” his success will come at a far greater price to Americans than the $110,000 his clients have paid.

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