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Former Rep. Jeff Miller has moved over to Mercury.

Federal

Watchdog wants DOJ investigation into Jeff Miller’s foreign lobbying

Former Congressman registered to lobby for Qatar fewer than six months after leaving office.

A complaint filed Thursday with the Department of Justice alleges former Florida Congressman Jeff Miller violated a one-year ban on aiding foreign entities after leaving the House by working as an agent of the Qatar government in 2017.

The Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a Washington watchdog group, requested the DOJ open an investigation into the Santa Rosa Republican, who registered within six months of leaving office in 2017 to “advise the State of Qatar regarding their interests with Executive & Legislative branches,” according to his federal Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing.

Miller indicated in the filing he would only be lobbying members of the Executive Branch, presumably to avoid violating a one-year Congressional lobbying ban for former members.

However, CLC claims Miller wasn’t allowed to advise a foreign entity at all in 2017 and appears to have violated federal law.

“Rep. Miller stated in sworn FARA documents that he would aid, advise and represent Qatar — a foreign entity — with the intention of influencing U.S. Government officials on Qatari interests within a year of completing his Congressional term,” the complaint reads. “Any such activities that took place before January 3, 2018, would constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 207(f) (1).

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“Providing ‘behind-the-scenes’ aid and advice in support of Qatar’s lobbying or other influence efforts are also prohibited.”

A recent report by CLC identified 18 former members of Congress, including Miller, who were using leftover funds from “zombie campaigns” to lobby their former colleagues on behalf of foreign entities.

“The FEC and Congress should kill ‘zombie campaigns’ in order to prevent former officeholders from using their campaign accounts to grease the wheels for foreign powers,” said Brendan Fischer, Director of Federal Reform for the Campaign Legal Center.

The group’s FARA research led to the discovery that Miller did not appear to honor a mandatory one-year cooling-off period after leaving office.

CLC also had been critical of Miller’s use of zombie campaign funds to advance his other lobbying interests, exposed by Florida Politics in June. Miller continues to send significant campaign contributions to his former colleagues, whom he also lobbies on behalf of companies that profit off the privatization of the VA.

Miller did not respond to a request for comment.

Written By

Noah Pransky is a multiple award-winning investigative reporter, most recently with the CBS affiliate in Tampa. He’s uncovered major stories such as uncovering backroom deals in the Tampa Bay Rays stadium and other political investigations. Pransky also ran a blog called Shadow of the Stadium, giving readers a deep dive into the details of potential financial deals and other happenings involving the Tampa Bay- area sports business.

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