WikiLeaks Expose Questionable Details From Dana Rohrabacher's Visit to Honduras

Categories: Politics
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R. Scott Moxley told you in October about Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) having inserted himself in the violent 2009 coup that toppled the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.


To refresh your memory, that post ended with the Surfin' Congressman having traveled to Honduras in January to let the newly elected government--the choice of that country's oligarchy and rightwing military--know that Republicans in the U.S. supported them.

Thanks to WikiLeaks, we now know more about his "unusual delegation."

That's the description the New York Times uses in today's piece about Rohrabacher being accompanied by a group of California real estate investors and businessmen, including a dealer in rare coins, and top executives from a fledgling San Diego biofuels company run by a friend of the congressman's wife, Rhonda Carmony.

Reports the Times:

Using his status as a senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Rohrabacher cheered his hosts in Honduras by openly challenging the Obama administration's foreign policy agenda there, then arranged a series of meetings with top Honduran officials, including the president, during which the congressman "enthusiastically promoted" the biofuel company's plans to perhaps set up operations in Honduras, says a State Department summary of the meetings included in the files obtained by WikiLeaks.

The regime welcomed Rohrabacher and his cronies warmly, especially given the reception the new government had received from the Obama administration.

Just days before Mr. Rohrabacher's arrival, the Obama administration had pressed Honduras's new president, Porfirio Lobo, to name a "truth commission" to investigate Mr. Zelaya's removal, and implied that United States financial assistance to the poor Central American nation might hinge on such a move.

Rohrabacher holds no foreign policy power beyond his one House vote and whatever's in his mind and, by tradition, members of Congress are not supposed to freelance foreign policy that goes against the sitting administration.

But Mr. Rohrabacher, in meetings with members of the Honduran Supreme Court, told them that a truth commission was unnecessary and a waste of time.

He explained this away to the Times by saying he has always practiced an activist foreign policy role in Congress.

According to the State Department cable, he said in Honduras that his views carried weight. He told the country's top elected officials that "he was an emissary of Honduras' friends in Congress, in particular member of Congress Ileana Ros-Lehtinen," referring to a congresswoman from Florida who is the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is now set to become its chairwoman.

There is one long tradition Rohrabacher adhered to with his foreign hosts: that of politicians scratching one another's backs.

Mr. Rohrabacher's three-day trip to Tegucigalpa and his advocacy for SG Biofuels, a small company run by a family friend, stood out from the dozens of written reports detailing summaries of official visits by members of Congress to foreign nations that were included in the vast trove of State Department documents obtained by the WikiLeaks group and reviewed by The New York Times.

Besides being a friend of Carmony's and former intern in Rohrabacher's congressional office, SG Biofuels president Kirk Haney is a campaign contributor. The congressman managed to wrangle him a meeting with President Lobo to discuss SG's possible role in creating a biofuels industry in Honduras.

John R. Saunders, the coin dealer taking part in Dana's Excellent Honduran Adventure is a big contributor to the congressman's campaigns, dating back at least a decade. He told the Times he used the access to top Honduras officials, including the head of the country's central bank, to discuss the possibility of buying or at least helping arrange the sale of rare antique American coins from Honduras' gold reserves. That deal has, so far, not worked out.

Time to get a certain congressman on the horn.
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