Luke Rosiak, DCNF
- Qatar is a nation that spends billions of dollars to influence the U.S. and has been accused of funding terrorism.
- Six Democrats, most with key chairmanships of interest to the foreign country, accepted a trip paid by the wealthy oil nation’s government.
- Two, including one congressman on the intelligence committee, did not disclose the trips on mandatory ethics forms designed to root out foreign meddling and conflicts of interest.
- One shrugged called the omission an “oversight” while the other didn’t respond at all.
Six Democrats took an all-expenses paid trip paid for by the government of Qatar in December, but two of them did not disclose it, annual ethics forms reveal.
Democratic Reps. Donald Norcross of New Jersey and Jim Himes of Connecticut did not report taking the trip to Doha, Qatar, on their mandatory disclosure forms, but Buzzfeed said they were there at the elaborate Doha Forum gathering in December.
The congressmen hold sensitive positions that make them targets of influence for Qatar, a wealthy Arab nation.
Himes is on the House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence, and is chair of its Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research subcommittee. Norcross is on the House Armed Services Committee and chairs its Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee.
The U.S. has a military base in Qatar and the country also purchases military equipment from the U.S.
Despite Democrats’ rhetoric on the dangers of “foreign meddling,” Hines did not respond to questions from the Daily Caller News Foundation about the hidden gift.
Norcross’ spokeswoman Ally Kehoe merely stated, “my office is aware of this oversight and we will be filing an amendment.”
Most of the other politicians who Buzzfeed said were there did report the trip: Democratic Reps. Andre Carson and Dan Kildee of Michigan and Ami Bera of California. Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania was on the trip but got an extension on filing his disclosure.
Carson is on the intelligence committee and its counterterrorism subcommittee. Bera is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and chairs its investigations subcommittee.
The congressmen met with Qatar’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs on the trip.
On Tuesday, congressional Republicans asked the Department of Justice to force Qatar’s media arm, Al Jazeera, to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
“[O]ne can reasonably infer that Al Jazeera is a messaging tool for the Qatari government, and, on its behalf, has engaged in inherently political activities and sought to influence public opinion in the United States,” reads the letter, which six senators and two members of Congress signed.
Al Jazeera “has proved itself a useful tool for the station’s political masters,” Joseph LeBaron, who served as ambassador to Qatar in the Bush and Obama administrations, wrote in a 2009 diplomatic cable.
The Department of Education is also investigating Qatar’s infusion of cash into U.S. universities. Qatar poured a billion dollars into U.S. colleges between 2011 and 2016 — especially to Georgetown University, known for training America’s future diplomats. Georgetown also has a federal contact that enables it to help shape the way the Middle East is taught to American children in K-12 schools.
The liberal ThinkProgress reported: “Qatar operates under strict, Wahhabi-influenced Sharia law which attaches harsh criminal penalties to such things as alcohol consumption (forbidden in all but a few venues) and anything that might be termed an ‘illicit’ sexual practice,” including gay sex.
Freedom House, which monitors human rights, says that in Qatar, “Corporal punishment in the form of flogging can be imposed on Muslim defendants for certain offenses under Sharia (Islamic law), including alcohol consumption and extramarital sex.” It rates Qatar a zero on a scale of four for the question, “Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?”
The failure to disclose the trips was first reported by Al-Monitor.