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Aides had hand in Dubai deal

WASHINGTON - In the spring, when Sen. Hillary Rodham

Clinton was denouncing the Dubai Ports World deal, a consulting firm run by her

top advisers was quietly lobbying for a Dubai takeover of two U.S. defense

plants, Newsday has learned.

The Glover Park Group, whose principals include Clinton insiders Howard

Wolfson, Joe Lockhart and Gigi Georges, was paid about $100,000 to help the

government-owned Dubai International Capital Corp. in its acquisition of the

British engineering firm Doncasters Group Ltd.

The four-month lobbying effort apparently didn't include any contact with

Clinton's office. "They [Glover Park] didn't have contact with us on either" of

the Dubai deals, said Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines.

But it underscores the awkwardness of Clinton's political kitchen cabinet

being housed inside a firm that features one of Washington's most aggressive

and fast-growing lobbying operations.

Clinton and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped to sink the takeover

of port operations by a Dubai company, supported the Doncasters acquisition,

saying it didn't pose nearly as significant a security threat.

Glover Park's contract with Dubai was channeled through the Los Angeles law

office of Raj Tanden, the brother of longtime Hillary Clinton policy adviser

Neera Tanden, according to people familiar with the situation.

Raj Tanden, who represented the emirate's royal family in its 2005

acquisition of $1 billion in U.S. real estate holdings, declined to comment.

His sister didn't return a message left at her office yesterday.

Neera Tanden served as a congressional liaison for Bill Clinton before

moving on to become a key Hillary Clinton campaign aide and the senator's

legislative director.

The Doncasters takeover was much less controversial than the ports deal,

mainly because Dubai officials submitted to a full review by the Committee on

Foreign Investment in the United States. The Bush administration infuriated

Congress by forgoing a review for the ports takeover, provoking a powerful

bipartisan backlash that doomed the deal.

Doncasters, which makes tank and aircraft turbines in its Connecticut and

Georgia plants, was approved by the government foreign investment committee in

May. Some critics, including Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), argued that Mideast

officials shouldn't be allowed to control factories used by defense


Considering the firestorm that surrounded the Dubai Ports World proposal,

it's surprising that the controversy-allergic Clinton team agreed to lobby for

Dubai at all.

The contract was signed April 13, only a month after the ports deal went

down in flames over concerns the emirate was a breeding ground for some of the

Sept. 11 hijackers.

It also came on the heels of columnist Robert Novak's report that Bill

Clinton unsuccessfully urged Dubai officials to hire Glover partner Lockhart as

their spokesman. A Clinton spokesman didn't deny the account.

Glover Park's lobbying team, led by former Clinton White House staffer Joel

Johnson, met with Schumer's staff, House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King

(R-Seaford) and Senate Democrats, including Carl Levin of Michigan.

Johnson said his goal was to assure skeptical legislators that Doncasters

was no reprise of the ports debacle.

"We wanted to ... respond to any concern in order to assure members that

this was consistent with our national security interests," he said.

Who was involved

The Glover Park Group - known as the "White House in Exile" - was founded

five years ago by a group of top advisers to Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton,

including former White House communications director Joe Lockhart and key

Hillary Clinton advisers Gigi Georges and Howard Wolfson, who don't engage in

lobbying but are apprised of the firm's lobbying efforts.

Staff who lobbied on behalf of Dubai:

Joel Johnson: former senior adviser for policy and communications, Clinton

White House.

Susan Brophy: former deputy director of legislative affairs, Clinton White

House. Married to Gerald McGowan, Clinton's ambassador to Portugal.

Brett O'Brien: foreign policy adviser to former Senate Democratic Majority

Leader George Mitchell.

- U.S. Senate lobbying reports/Glover Park Group Web site

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