Stephen Payne, the Bush supporter caught on tape
offering access for cash, claims his firm has done a lot of work for foreign governments and politicians, but neither he nor his firm show up much in the DOJ database
that tracks registered foreign agents.
For example, one of the firm's brochures
claims they did extensive work for Azerbaijan, including:
Arranged for the President of Azerbaijan to visit the U.S. and meet with President Bush -- a task the Azeri Government had been trying to do over the past three years
Arranged a private phone call between the Vice President of the United States and the President of Azerbaijan, prior to the Azeri Elections in November 2005
That sounds a lot like working for a foreign agent. The brochure also maintains that the firm did work for Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and an Uzbek opposition leader -- and alleged terrorist
-- called Muhammad Salih.
Yet the only place Payne or Worldwide Strategies shows up in the DOJ database is for some work that Payne
did for Pakistan
a few years ago under the name of a firm called Team Eagle, also known as Team Barakat, according to the database maintained under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Payne told UPI
that he spoke with the Department of Justice about this work and a DOJ official assured him that he did not have to register
, in part because they were "commercial" contracts.
"I believe that we are in compliance with FARA regulations," Payne wrote in his e-mail to UPI. "We did not need to FARA register as the basis for our work was commercial projects in these countries. We checked with the Department of Justice's FARA division and were informed that we did not need to register for these commercial projects."
Officials over at DOJ read that this morning, too, and they're not entirely sure what Payne's talking about.
"We have seen the media reports about Mr. Payne's assertion and, at this time, we are attempting to determine whether or not they are accurate," DOJ spokesman Dean Boyd told TPMmuckraker.
Maybe the investigation
into Payne will help explain what that's all about.