Bush advisor Vin Weber goes on retainer to lobby for anti-gay Ugandan government

Vin Weber, a top advisor to Jeb Bush’s campaign, has signed on to help Uganda repair its badly damaged image in the United States by lobbying for them in Washington.

From Lee Fang at The Intercept:

Uganda hired Mercury Public Affairs, Weber’s firm, for a $50,000 per month retainer with Weber as the only registered lobbyist on the account. The contract calls for Mercury to provide general “lobbying services” as well as communication services to promote trade and investment opportunities in Uganda.

Weber joined the Bush campaign effort in February as an outside adviser. According to the Washington Post, Weber has worked behind the scenes to develop ties between Bush and major donors and conservative leaders. He told the Post in June that he intends to “coordinate policy” for the campaign.

Uganda has come under fire in the West of late over their repeated attempts to criminalize homosexuality. Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, signed into law and then blocked by the country’s courts for procedural reasons last year, made “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life in prison. Earlier versions of the bill called for the death penalty in such cases, but was revised after multiple nations threatened to cut their foreign aid to the country if such provisions became law.

Anti-homophobia protest in Uganda, via Creative Commons

Anti-homophobia protest in Uganda, via Creative Commons

As Fang notes, the ties between Uganda’s anti-gay policies and the United States run even deeper than Weber. The sponsor of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, David Bahati, is a member of The Fellowship, the secretive Christian organization that organizes the National Prayer Breakfast and counts a number of Republican politicians (and Hillary Clinton) as members. Despite repeated failures to pass his bill, Bahati has pledged to reintroduce it this year.

It’s important to remember in all of this that the American Religious Right feels a special affinity for Uganda’s Religious Right because America, in a great many ways, built that. Centuries of colonialism and decades of American Christian missionary work, which is ramping up as those same American Christians are losing the culture wars at home, have produced a mixture of poverty and religious fervor that will nearly always result in particularly ugly and all too familiar forms of persecution.

Now that the mess has been made, American theocrats are willing to help run interference. As long as the price is right, that is.

Jeb Bush’s campaign has, thus far, declined to weigh in on whether it is still comfortable paying for advice from Weber, who is now one of the principal pitch-men for Uganda’s anti-gay government on K Street.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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