Jack Kingston becomes a D.C. lobbyist for the Syrian opposition

The money-in-politics website Open Secrets reports that former Georgia congressman and Trump campaign adviser Jack Kingston has a new gig: Lobbying for the Syrian opposition.

The committee leads a wide coalition of groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but excludes two of the region’s most prominent militant groups, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front. Last month, the High Negotiations Committee, which receives Saudi support, negotiated the recent short-lived ceasefire with Assad’s forces.

Kingston said in an interview Thursday that the work hasn't begun yet but he plans to educate members of Congress and the executive branch about the Committee's work in Syria, as opposed to lobbying for a specific piece of legislation.

“There’s definitely a vacuum there I believe that the High commission can be helpful with," he said.

As Open Secrets points out, the revolving door between Capitol Hill and the lobbying hub that is Washington, D.C.’s K Street is well known. What’s more interesting is what Kingston’s new gig means in the context of his role as a surrogate for the Trump campaign:

… [T]he Republican nominee’s policy on Syria has been so sparse thus far. Trump has thus far focused his Syrian strategy on bombing ISIS, though his partner on the presidential ticket, Gov. Mike Pence, articulated a need to “be prepared to use military force to strike the military forces of the Assad regime” during Tuesday’s vice presidential debate. “Provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength,” he said.

Kingston said he hasn't discussed his new work with the Syrian opposition with the Trump campaign but that he would be happy to share information if they ask.

“It’s important for either candidate to have people who are familiar with the ground situation in Syria and so I believe my knowledge could be helpful if (Trump) wants to draw upon it," said Kingston.

This isn’t Kingston’s first lobbying gig since joining the firm Squire Patton Boggs shortly after he left Congress in early 2015. He lobbied ex-colleagues about a rum tax on behalf of a Puerto Rican conservation group earlier this year.


Apparently we have a feud brewing within Fox News. On Wednesday, Megyn Kelly publicly complained of the favoritism that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has shown to her colleague Sean Hannity:

According to The Hill newspaper, Hannity used Twitter to accuse Kelly of a Fox News unthinkable: Supporting Hillary Clinton:


On Wednesday, a Senate study committee at the state Capitol heard testimony on how to reduce the number of those without health insurance in Georgia. Andy Miller of Georgia Health News made note of the dog that didn’t bark:

Surprisingly on Wednesday, the Senate panel did not hear a presentation from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, whose health care task force created three proposals with differing eligibility standards and designs. These and other non-standard proposals would require waivers from Washington to qualify for the federal financial support that comes with expansion.


Republican state Sen. Fran Millar took to Facebook on Wednesday to lash out at the Atlantic Coast Conference for moving a trio of championships to Georgia from North Carolina after that state adopted a controversial "bathroom law" that restricts where transgender people can use public restrooms.

"I hope few people will attend these events," he wrote.  "We are taking advantage of a state that stood by its principles and I find it shameful. The hypocrisy of the ACC with its sponsors being located in countries that outwardly allow discrimination makes its action against North Carolina a joke."

We asked the Dunwoody Republican if he intended to organize a boycott against the ACC events, and he said that's not where he was going with his blast.

"I just don't like taking advantage of someone that did the right thing in the eyes of most people," he said. "People can do what they want, but I won't be there."


Those dominoes keep falling. As we told you in this space late Wednesday, the Sam Olens' pending ascension to the presidency of Kennesaw State University will set off a battle for the attorney general's job. And challengers are already lining up to compete against Chris Carr, who seems to be Gov. Nathan Deal's likely pick to finish out Olens' term.

Democratic state Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna said she was eyeing the race, and Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon does not seem cowed at the prospect of running against an incumbent. But here's a bit of a surprise: Outgoing state Rep. B.J. Pak, a former federal prosecutor and Gwinnett County Republican, could still be in the hunt as well.

Pak, who would be Georgia's first Asian statewide elected official, once worked at the Alston & Bird law firm with Carr and the two remain friends. He calls Carr a "good man and a dedicated public servant." But he said he has not ruled out a run for the post.

"As our governor has always done throughout his tenure, I know that his decision will be well reasoned and in the best interest of the state," Pak said.


When it comes to Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed constitutional amendment to permit the state to take control of individual failing schools, state School Superintendent Richard Woods has become Switzerland. From today’s Marietta Daily Journal:

Woods, who toured Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs on Wednesday, declined to comment on whether he supported the Opportunity School District proposal. He said the proposal does not change the state education department’s goal of ensuring all students and schools are successful.

“It doesn’t change the mentality,” Woods said. “It is my job to make sure that every child has a great education.”

Woods said he can only control the state education department and not Georgia voters.

Woods' neutrality is just another sign of the surprising wariness that Deal’s initiative has drawn from the conservative side of the ledger.


Also in today’s Marietta Daily Journal, a state lawmaker says he’ll introduce a bill to prohibit the clandestine use of GPS devices to track straying spouses and secretive teens:

Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, discussed his plans for the bill on Friday, one day after Cobb Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard gave the go-ahead for a jury trial for a woman who sued a local private investigator for attaching a GPS to her car without her permission.

About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...