Bob Dole, fresh from his coup with Taiwan, signs up another foreign client

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Kansas City Star

Bob Dole, who is special counsel at the law and lobbying shop Alston & Bird, is dipping his toe back into the troubled waters of the Balkans.

Former GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole has signed up another foreign client, according to a Justice Department filing made Wednesday.

Dole, who is special counsel at the law and lobbying shop Alston & Bird, is dipping his toe back into the troubled waters of the Balkans: He’ll be representing the foreign ministry of Kosovo, providing strategic consulting “in connection with deepening and expanding Kosovo’s bilateral relations and relations with international institutions, assisting in security and economic development initiatives, and fostering enhanced foreign direct investment and trade opportunities.”

What that means exactly is unclear. But Dole is an old friend of Kosovo, having advocated for U.S. intervention on its behalf during its war with neighboring Serbia in the late 1990s and flying to Pristina in 1999 to convince ethnic Albanians there to sign a peace deal. Dole has been registered to lobby for Kosovo in the past, but not since the early 2000s; the nation has other representatives on the payroll in Washington.

But things are getting hot again in that part of the world. A recent decision by Kosovo to appropriate all immovable property previously belonging to the former Yugoslavia or Serbia didn’t help. The country’s leaders were ordered this month to continue European Union-facilitated talks aimed at normalizing relations with the Serbs. But that’s a tall order, and Kosovo has announced it will transform its security force, which doesn’t have much heft, into an army, which doesn’t bode well for continued (relative) peace in the region.

The U.S. ambassador in Kosovo reportedly has warned authorities there against the militarization.

Serbia is one of the few nations that has refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence, declared in 2008.

Kosovo may have been drawn back to Dole by his well-publicized success acting on behalf of Taiwan, culminating in an unorthodox call between President-elect Donald Trump and the Taiwanese president last fall. The phone call stirred up controversy about its break from decades of diplomacy based on the U.S.’s “One China” policy, and China’s main daily newspaper put an angry editorial about the event on its front page. Dole received $140,000 from May to October for his work.

Also on the Kosovo account for Alston & Bird is Robert C. Jones, the head of the firm’s lobbying shop and a former counsel to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Other than his work for Taiwan, Dole, who was a Republican House member and then senator from Kansas from 1961 until his resignation in 1996, has been light on foreign clients in recent years. One exception (cue the conspiracy drums): the Russian Federation, which he represented in 2014 through a contract with Ketchum, the public relations firm long used by Russia. He was paid $15,000 for that work.

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