Thu, Oct 26, 2006 - Page 3 News List

James Huang says relationship with US PR firm is over

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) yesterday said that the nation's contract with US lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates had concluded about one year ago.

Since that time, he said, the ministry has had no business relations with the company.

Huang made the remarks while fielding questions from legislators at the legislature's Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee meeting.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Jih-chu (李紀珠) cited a story published in the Chinese-language China Times two weeks ago which said that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had revealed to prosecutors that he had paid for Presidential Office contracts with Cassidy & Associates using money from the special state affairs fund.

Lee asked Huang if he knew about the matter and, if so, who had paid the lobbying firm.

Huang did not answer Lee's question directly, saying only that the ministry signed contracts with 14 US public relation companies and all the expenses were allocated through the official budget, and came to about NT$100 million (about US$2.9 million).

"According to the US lobbying laws, PR firms have to display information on clients on their Web sites. Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has transparent relations with US PR firms," Huang said.

Since the ministry has paid for these PR expenses, Lee asked why the Presidential Office had to pay Cassidy & Associates' fees out of the Presidential Office expense fund.

In response, Huang said the ministry did not hire Cassidy & Associates and has never dealt with that PR firm.

He added that he could not make any comment on diplomatic affairs conducted through the Presidential Office.

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