Trump's Pick for Intelligence Chief Spent Years Lobbying | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Trump's Pick for Intelligence Chief Spent Years Lobbying

The Indiana Republican, 73, has made four spins through the capital's revolving door

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    File — Joint Economic Committee Chairman Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. speaks at the conclusion of a hearing with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.

    Former Sen. Dan Coats, in line to be national intelligence director, has swung back and forth between government service and lobbying, the type of Washington career that President-elect Donald Trump has mocked.

    The Indiana Republican, 73, has made four spins through the capital's revolving door and become wealthy. Since the early 1980s, Coats either has served in government or earned money as a lobbyist and board director. His most recently available Senate financial disclosure, from 2014, shows he had a net worth of more than $12 million.

    Lawmakers 'Tricked' Into Honoring Ku Klux Klansman

    [NATL] Tennessee Lawmakers 'Tricked' Into Honoring Ku Klux Klansman

    Lawmakers in Tennessee are crying foul after Republican Rep. Mike Sparks sneaked in a resolution to honor former Ku Klux Klansman Nathan Bedford Forrest with a bust under a different name. The resolution passed unanimously, 94-0, and the bust was installed at the state Capitol before lawmakers realized the mistake. 

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    In and out of government, Coats dealt with intelligence, which he would oversee for the Trump administration if confirmed by the Senate. Announcing his selection on Saturday, Trump cited Coats' "deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment" and government service but did not mention his lobbying.

    When Coats first left the Senate in 1999, he abided by the legally required yearlong cooling off period before joining a firm that lobbied his former colleagues on behalf of foreign clients.

    He resumed government service in 2001 as ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush. In 2005, Coats returned to the United States — and to the influence industry, as a lobbyist on behalf of some of the country's biggest companies, including defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. Five years later, he successfully ran for his old Senate seat.

    "This is exactly how people outside of Washington think Washington works," said Meredith McGehee, a chief at the government watchdog group Issue One. "It's the internecine nature of policymakers getting rich off the people they once regulated. And then to come back into the government — it can be a tough task for any person to basically now bite the hand that fed you."

    UC Davis Now Sells Plan B and Condoms From a Vending Machine

    [NATL] UC Davis Now Sells Plan B, Pregnancy Tests and Condoms From a Vending Machine

    Students at the University of California, Davis, can now purchase $30 Plan B emergency contraceptives, pregnancy tests, condoms and other personal care products from a vending machine. The idea came from UC Davis senior Parteek Singh, after a friend was unable to buy emergency contraceptives in time. 

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    Trump aides stressed that Trump's lobbying policies are foward-looking. Spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was hiring the most qualified people for his administration.

    Coats "recognizes the opportunity to serve outweighs any possibility of personal gain," Spicer said.

    If confirmed, Coats would head an agency created after the Sept. 11 attacks to improve coordination among U.S. spy and law enforcement agencies.

    Coats isn't the only one in Trump's still-forming administration to work on both sides of the government power structure.

    Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams

    [NATL] Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams

    A new study finds that it is not the elderly who are most susceptible to scam phone calls, but millennials, who are six times more likely to give away credit card information than any other age group. 

    (Published Saturday, April 29, 2017)

    Robert Lighthizer, picked to be U.S. trade representative, spent years as a registered lobbyist, representing steel companies, among others, as recently as 2012. He joined the law firm Skadden in 1998, after having been at the trade office for two years during the Reagan administration.

    Rick Perry, Trump's choice as energy secretary, registered in Texas as a lobbyist for the country's largest private dental insurance company a little over a year after leaving office as the state's longtime governor.

    When Trump talked on the campaign trail about "draining the swamp" of Washington — a catchphrase that remains popular at his rallies — he specifically denounced the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street, the hub of lobbying that attracts many ex-lawmakers.

    "They're making a fortune," Trump said at an Oct. 20 campaign rally in Delaware, Ohio. "Not going to happen. That's why they make all these sweetheart deals."

    Girl Scalped on Carnival Ride Talks Recovery One Year Later

    [NATL] Girl Scalped on Carnival Ride Talks Recovery One Year Later

    Elizabeth "Lulu" Gilreath talks about her recovery from a carnival ride gone very wrong. Gilreath was scalped when her hair was caught on the King's Crown ride in Omaha, Nebraska, but she does not dwell on the incident, saying "My scars don't define me."

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    Coats, for example, earned more than $600,000 in his final year at the Washington law and government relations firm King & Spaulding, where he worked until his second Senate run.

    Trump has banned all top administration and transition officials from registering as lobbyists for five years after serving under him. In his "drain the swamp" agenda, released a few weeks before Election Day, he called on Congress to restrict itself in the same way.

    Trump's "swamp" prohibitions would have cost Coats two rounds of lobbying jobs.

    Coats' lobbying became a theme of his second Senate bid campaign. By then his history included some 40 clients and a circa-2000 stint with Verner, Lipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, a firm that did foreign agent work for authoritarian governments in Yemen, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

    Man Sees Vera Wang Diamond Ring on Sidewalk, Finds Its Owner

    [NATL] Man Finds Vera Wang Diamond Engagement Ring on Sidewalk, Tracks Down Its Owner

    Imagine looking down and finding a pristine diamond ring lying on the sidewalk. That was how Glenn Weddell found a Vera Wang diamond ring one afternoon in Sacramento, California. But instead of keeping it, Weddell hunted down the distraught owner to return the ring in a happy reunion. His method involved posting a sign to a tree downtown and hoping for the best. 

    (Published Thursday, April 27, 2017)

    Coats said he personally did no foreign agent work for those countries while he was at Verner. He said his involvement on behalf of foreign governments was limited to India.

    He defended his overall lobbying work in a 2010 interview with the Indianapolis Star: "CEOs or big companies love to come in, and they don't want to sit down with a 26-year-old staffer. They want to sit down with George Mitchell or Dan Coats or Connie Mack," Coats said, citing two other former senators. "The firm wants them to know these people are with us and they want our judgment."

    Coats, while with King & Spalding in 2008, worked for Sprint during the Bush administration's effort to revamp the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

    Backed by Bush, Sprint and other major telecom companies mounted an aggressive campaign to grant them immunity for partnering with the National Security Agency in sweeping surveillance on Americans without warrants from the FISA court. Civil rights groups had threatened to sue the firms over their work with the government.

    Inmate Convulses During Execution With Controversial Drug

    [NATL] Fourth Arkansas Inmate Convulses During Execution With Controversial Drug

    The controversy over midazolam, a drug used during state executions of convicted inmates, rises following the execution of a fourth Arkansas inmate in eight days. Witnesses say Kenneth Williams, put on death row for the 1999 murder of two people, moved and shook during his execution Thursday night.

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    King & Spalding's disclosures show that Coats talked with Congress members and federal officials about the measure, which the firm said "would affect providers of communications services in connection with electronic surveillance."

    The disclosure also said Coats' and the others' lobbying also dealt with national security bills in the Senate and House aimed at revamping provisions of the surveillance law.

    While the disclosures say little about the aim of the lobbying effort, the phone companies worked with the Bush administration at the time to erect legal backing for their secret dealings with the NSA.

    When Coats returned to lawmaking in 2011, joining the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was a dependable conservative voice in support of the NSA — and the communications industry.