Joe Lieberman called Chinese telecom giant ZTE a national security threat. Now he's a lobbyist for it.
Joseph Lieberman, the former Connecticut senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate, is working for a company he once called a national security threat. In November, Lieberman registered as a lobbyist for ZTE, a Chinese telecom giant with close links to the country’s government.
The ex-senator told Politico that, despite his registration, he wouldn’t actually be lobbying for the firm. Rather, he hoped to “raise the level of trust in ZTE.” Lieberman certainly should understand the trust deficit the company faces. In 2010, he signed a letter saying ZTE and another Chinese telecom company, Huawei, could threaten American national security.
Lieberman’s work for ZTE has already drawn criticism. The Campaign Legal Center, a government watchdog group, called for him to register as a foreign agent because of the company’s close links to the Chinese government. And Brendan Fischer, who heads the group’s Federal Reform Program, called Lieberman’s work for ZTE “swampy.”
“It is unseemly, but not uncommon, for a senator who supported, say, the oil and gas industry to then lobby for that industry after leaving office,” he told The Daily Beast. “But it is something else altogether when a former member takes one side of an issue while in office, and after leaving office pushes the opposite side of that issue in exchange for a check.”