In the ongoing controversy over Ayad Allawi's new US-based campaign for support, the former prime minister of Iraq has just changed his story again.
A contract signed by Allawi, filed August 20 with the Justice Department by Republican lobbyist firm Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, indicates that he would be directly paying BGR at a rate of $50,000 a month for their efforts on his behalf in setting up media interviews and meetings with US officials.
Then on Sunday, Allawi admitted on CNN's Late Edition that an Iraqi supporter he declined to name would be paying his BGR bills, saying, "He has supported this wholeheartedly, without any strings attached."
But now Allawi has told Mark Hosenball and Mike Isikoff of Newsweek that TWO Iraqi supporters are footing the bill.
Hosenball and Isikoff write that Allawi refused to identify his financial backers for “security reasons.” Asked whether he would name them, Allawi replied, “Of course not. They may be killed by the Iranians, they may be killed by the sectarian people ... These are details I am not interested in answering.”
As it turns out, Allawi may not have to reveal those details at all.
Whether he has one or a hundred financial backers, if BGR registers Allawi in their DOJ filings as the "foreign principal" they intend to represent, they are required to disclose any foreign financial backers. But if they instead register Allawi's political party, the Iraqi National Accord, as their "foreign principal," the identity of Allawi's backer(s) will be sealed behind the wall of the INA.
Newsweek reports that BGR lawyers are working that angle with the Justice Department, but the issue has yet to be fully resolved.
Foreign political parties are not expected to reveal all their donors when they hire American firms to represent their interests in front of the US government. That makes sense from a practical workload standpoint, but seems disconcerting in light of stringent post-9/11 measures targeting the financial reach of those who potentially seek to harm the US.
In this case, the law may have left a loophole large enough for Allawi and his anonymous backer(s) to leap through.