Ex-senators Breaux and Lott confirm lobbying for Russian bank on Ukraine sanctions

A new filing says they were part of a team that earned $150,000 for roughly a month of work

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Former Sens. Trent Lott and John Breaux were part of a team paid $150,000 by a Russian bank to lobby on U.S. sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, according to a new disclosure their firm has filed with the U.S. Senate.

The former senators and their colleagues at Squire Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C., were retained over the summer by a banking subsidiary of the Russian oil giant Gazprombank and lobbied the Senate and the Department of State on the sanctions and other banking laws, according to the filing.

Disclosure of their connection with Gazprombank by The Center for Public Integrity on Sept. 2 sparked widespread public criticism of the former senators. The new filing confirms that Breaux and Lott “acted as a lobbyist” on issues related to sanctions, but also states that they “are no longer expected to act as a lobbyist” for the bank.

Gazprombank is Russia’s third largest bank. On July 16 — a month and a half before Breaux and Lott filed a document stating they had begun their lobbying — the U.S. Treasury Department added the bank to a list of Russian firms barred from debt financing with U.S. institutions.

Lott and Breaux were listed as the main lobbyists in that initial lobbying registration. The new disclosure covers the period from the registration through the end of September.

Breaux and Lott declined to respond to inquiries by the Center. But Breaux, in an interview with The Times-Picayune newspaper published on Sept. 9, said they registered to lobby “out of an abundance of caution.” At that point, Breaux and Lott hadn’t done any lobbying for the bank, the newspaper quoted him as saying. It said the firm’s Moscow office had asked them to look into possible Congressional actions related to Gazprombank.

The current disclosure does not say what work Breaux or Lott did during the filing period, covering late August through September. It also does not — because such forms typically contain only vague declarations — disclose whether and what others at the firm have done or are still doing for the bank.

Three other members of Squire Patton Boggs have worked with Breaux and Lott on the Gazprombank account, according to the disclosure. In addition to Joseph LeBaron, a former ambassador to Mauritania and Qatar during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, the filing lists partners Joseph Brand, whose clients have included foreign governments and multinational corporations, and Stephen McHale, whose multiple former U.S. government positions have included serving as the first deputy administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and Treasury’s acting general counsel during the Clinton-Bush transition, according to their biographies on Squire Patton Boggs website.

Neither Breaux, Lott or Squire Patton Boggs responded to the Center’s inquiries. Sergey Perminov of Gazprombank’s media relations office in Moscow said he could not respond by publication time.

U.S. sanctions against the bank remain in place.

Douglas Birch contributed to this report.

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