Hiring of Raphel to coordinate non-military Pak aid against Obama's lobbying rules

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Washington, Aug. 8 (ANI): The US State Department has hired a former Pakistan lobbyist to coordinate the non-military aid to Islamabad, highlighting loopholes in the Obama administration's tough new lobbying rules.

Soon after taking office, Obama had issued an executive order designed to prevent federal agencies from hiring individuals who had lobbied the agencies within the past two years.

Robin Raphel, who held top foreign posts during the Clinton administration, has been a senior vice president for Cassidy and Associates, one of K Street's largest firms, The Hill reports.

The records indicate that Raphel's appointment could conflict with the order since she lobbied State and also was a foreign agent for Pakistan, albeit briefly.

She, however, might be exempted from the ban already. The order specifically exempts "any person appointed as a member of the Senior Foreign Service or solely as a uniformed service commissioned officer," according to the order.

Raphel's position could also not be a political appointment, which likewise would exempt her from the ban.

If Raphel is not exempted already from the ban, she could earn a waiver from the president.

Obama has already issued waivers from the lobbyist-hiring ban for several appointees, such as Bill Lynn, the deputy secretary for the Defense Department.

The exemptions have however, been criticized by lawmakers and watchdog groups.

The Cassidy and Associates, which had finalized its 696,000 dollars contract with the Pakistan Embassy in Washington to "engage in efforts to improve Pakistan-U.S. relations, issued a statement congratulating Raphel.

"While we hate to lose Robin as part of our team, we wish her all the best in her new position and we're confident of her success as she works to strengthen and improve America's reputation around the world," said Gerry Cassidy, executive chairman stated. (ANI)

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