When the Republican National Committee convened in Chicago last August for its annual summer meeting, it unanimously approved a resolution urging the White House to supply a host of weapons, ranging from submarines to advanced warplanes, to the island nation of Taiwan.
However, Justice Department records show the resolution was not written by any of the RNC’s members, but by Marshall Harris, a lobbyist who had been hired by the Taiwanese government to further its interests in Washington.
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, lobbyists representing foreign governments are required to disclose their activities to the U.S. attorney general. According to the disclosure documents filed by Harris’ employer Alston & Bird, an Atlanta-based law firm, he wrote a draft of the resolution a month before the RNC’s 2014 summer meeting.
Once the text reached the RNC, committee members cut several phrases and paragraphs, one of which called for Taiwan’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement that has been described as a “high priority” by the Obama administration. The text that remained, however, was copied nearly word for word from Harris’ draft.
Neither the RNC nor Harris responded to questions about the resolution. Taiwan’s Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, D.C. said the RNC often passes resolutions supporting Taiwan, and that the country has “a longstanding and solid friendship” with the Republican Party.
Taiwan engages in extensive lobbying of the U.S. government — not just representatives and senators but congressional staffers and even state-level officials — that receives less public attention than that of countries such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.