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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Weber, Vin

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Project for the New American Century: Founding member
Empower America: Cofounder

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Vin Weber is a former congressman (R-MN) and longtime “superlobbyist.” A prominent inside-the-beltway figure, Weber has supported several neoconservative initiatives, including the Project for the New American Century. He co-founded—with Jeane Kirkpatrick, William Bennett, and Jack KempEmpower America, a pressure group “devoted to ensuring that government actions foster growth, economic well-being, freedom, and individual responsibility.” He was a senior fellow at the Bradley-funded Progress and Freedom Foundation and has served on the board of the National Endowment for Democracy.[1]

Weber has served as an adviser to numerous presidential campaigns, including for George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain. However, during the 2016 presidential election, Weber staunchly opposed the nomination of Donald Trump. In an August 2016 interview with Bloomberg, he said that Trump was the least qualified candidate the GOP had ever nominated, adding “I’d rather he lose.”

In an interview during the GOP convention in July 2016, Weber pointed to the doom and gloom message that Trump pushed. “I think that does play to Trump’s advantage. Nobody is interested in a lot of nuance when they’re worried about a bomb blowing up at their shopping center,” said Weber. “He has projected since day one kind of this broad image of strength. Not very concrete, not very specific, but a strong guy. That’s what scares me about him, too. I don’t want an authoritarian figure as president, but that will appeal to people in an insecure environment.”

Superlobbyist

Since returning from Congress in 1993, Weber has worked as a government lobbyist, garnering a reputation as a “superlobbyist,” according to the Center for Public Integrity. As of 2016, Weber was a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, which describes itself as “a high-stakes public strategy firm.” At Mercury, Weber’s clients have included Airbnb, the Government of Qatar, Hyundai, Alcoa, and the Gerson Lehrman Group.

Weber was previously based at the high-powered firm Clark & Weinstock, opening its first office in Washington in 1994. In a 1998 exposé about lobbyists, the New York Times highlighted the work of Weber: “Former Representative Vin Weber is among the most successful of a new crop of Republican lobbyists. Working as a tag team of political influence, Mr. Weber often pairs up with [New York Democrat Thomas] Downey for clients, including Microsoft. He works out of the gleaming offices of Clark & Weinstock, a Wall Street consulting firm that did not have a Washington outpost until Mr. Weber opened one in 1994, after he retired from Congress. As one of Mr. Gingrich’s best friends in the House, the Minnesota Republican was in immediate demand. ‘People were looking for G.O.P. consultants and lobbyists all over the place,’ Mr. Weber said in an interview. Mr. Weber now heads an eight-man office that reported lobbying revenues of $2.2 million in 1997.”[2]

At Clark & Weinstock he was frequently engaged in high-profile political issues. In late 2004, Public Citizen mentioned Weber in connection with various allegedly inappropriate donations made to Tom DeLay’s legal-defense fund. According to the watchdog group, Weber contributed $1,000 to the fund despite the fact that House rules prohibit payments to legal defense funds from lobbyists. “It’s a clear-cut violation of House rules,” opined Public Citizen about the payments.[3]

Romney Campaign

In August 2011, former Governor Romney (R-MA) announced that Weber would serve as his “special advisor on policy” for his 2012 presidential campaign. “I am proud to have Vin’s support,” said Romney. “Vin will be a trusted adviser and I look forward to working with him to help get our country moving in the right direction again.” The move led some observers to speculate whether Weber would serve as Romney’s chief of staff in the event the former governor won the presidential election.[4]

Romney’s decision to tap Weber was part of a trend that saw several Republicans during the 2012 primary campaign call on neoconservatives and other hawkish ideologues for policy advice (see Peter Certo, “Rise of the Vulcans Redux,” Right Web, December 19, 2011).[5]

Background

Weber got his start in politics in 1974, when he served as a press secretary for Rep. Tom Hagedorn. After serving as a campaign manager for Sen. Rudy Boschwitz from 1978-1980, Weber won a seat in the House in 1981, representing Minnesota until 1993.

According to his NED biography, “Weber has been at the center of American government for nearly two decades.” Since his retirement from the House “he has represented some of America’s strongest and most entrepreneurial companies, as well as public interest groups serving children, medical professionals, and cancer victims. In addition, business, political, and media leaders continually seek his insight and guidance on domestic and global affairs.”[6]

[1] Humphrey School, “Vin Weber,” http://www.hhh.umn.edu/people/vweber/.

[2] Jill Abramson and Alison Mitchell, “K’Street.” New York Times, September 29-30, 1998.

[3] Eric Schmitt, “States and Communities Battling Another Round of Base Closings,” New York Times, March 20, 2005; Holly Bailey, and Michael Isikoff. “Delay: More Cash and More Questions,” Daily Beast, December 13, 2004, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2004/12/12/delay-more-cash-and-more-questions.html.

[4] Race for 20102, “Romney Announces Vin Weber as Special Adviser on Policy,” August 24, 2011, Auhttp://race42012.com/2011/08/24/romney-announces-vin-weber-as-special-adviser-on-policy/

[5] Nathan Guttman, “Gingrich and Adelson Forge Alliance,” Forward, December 8, 2011, http://forward.com/articles/147533/?p=all.

[6] NED, “Vin Weber,” http://www.ned.org/about/board/vin-weber.

 

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Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Sources

[1] Humphrey School, “Vin Weber,” http://www.hhh.umn.edu/people/vweber/.

[2] Race for 20102, “Romney Announces Vin Weber as Special Adviser on Policy,” August 24, 2011, Auhttp://race42012.com/2011/08/24/romney-announces-vin-weber-as-special-adviser-on-policy/

[3] Nathan Guttman, “Gingrich and Adelson Forge Alliance,” Forward, December 8, 2011, http://forward.com/articles/147533/?p=all.

[4] Eric Schmitt, “States and Communities Battling Another Round of Base Closings,” New York Times, March 20, 2005; Holly Bailey, and Michael Isikoff. “Delay: More Cash and More Questions,” Daily Beast, December 13, 2004, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2004/12/12/delay-more-cash-and-more-questions.html.

[5] Tom Paine,  March 8, 2000.

[6] Jill Abramson and Alison Mitchell, “K’Street.” New York Times, September 29-30, 1998.

[7] NED, “Vin Weber,” http://www.ned.org/about/board/vin-weber.

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Weber, Vin Résumé

Affiliations

  • National Endowment for Democracy: Board member
  • Empower America: Co-Founder
  • Project for the New American Century: Letter on War on Terrorism: Signatory, 2001
  • Project for the New American Century: Letter to Gingrich and Lott on Iraq: Signatory, 1998
  • Project for the New American Century: Letter to President Clinton on Iraq: Signatory, 1998
  • Project for the New American Century: Statement of Principles: Signatory, 1997
  • Aspen Institute Domestic Strategy Group: Co-Chairman
  • Center of the American Experiment: Senior Fellow
  • German Marshall Fund: Member of Board of Trustees
  • National Public Radio: Member of the Board
  • Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government: Member of Visiting Committee
  • George Washington University National Council for Political Management: Member
  • Progress and Freedom Foundation: Former Senior Fellow
  • Senator Rudy Boschwitz Campaign: Manager and Chief Minnesota Aide, 1978-1980

Government

  • U.S. House of Representatives: Minnesota Congressman, 1981-1993; Founder of Conservative Opportunity Society
  • U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz: Senior aid, 1977-1980
  • U.S. Representative Tom Hagedorn: Press Secretary, 1974-1976

Business

  • Mercury: Partner
  • ITT Educational Services: Board Member
  • Department 56: Board Member
  • Clark and Weinstock: Managing Partner for Washington, D.C.
  • The Murray County Herald: Co-Publisher, 1976-1978
  • Weber Publishing Co.: President

Education

  • University of Minnesota

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