WASHINGTON (JTA) — In 2010, Sen. Joe Lieberman fretted that the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE might be spying on Americans.
Nearly a decade later, Lieberman as a lobbyist is working for ZTE to see how the company can alleviate the kind of concerns raised by the then-senator.
The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that Lieberman, then a Connecticut Independent, joined three Republican lawmakers in ’10 asking the Obama administration to provide information on whether Americans were susceptible to espionage given aggressive attempts by ZTE and Huawei, another Chinese company, to enter the telecommunications market.
The revelation comes two weeks after OpenSecrets, a tracker of good government, reported that Lieberman registered as a lobbyist for ZTE.
“We are very concerned that these companies are being financed by the Chinese government and are potentially subject to significant influence by the Chinese military which may create an opportunity for manipulation of switches, routers, or software embedded in American telecommunications network so that communications can be disrupted, intercepted, tampered with, or purposely misrouted,” the 2010 letter said.
A spokeswoman for Lieberman’s law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres, told OpenSecrets that Lieberman was not lobbying per se for ZTE, but was instead “conducting a national security assessment investigation, where he will listen to congressional, executive branch, and customer national security concerns, but will not be attempting to influence them nor advocate on ZTE’s behalf.”
“His mission is to listen, assess and then make recommendations to ZTE on how to address U.S. national security concerns,” the spokeswoman, Clarine Nardi Riddle, told OpenSecrets.
Lieberman became the first Jewish nominee on a major party presidential ticket when Al Gore, the Democratic nominee, named him as his running mate in 2000.