Our Man in Egypt Works for Egypt

Frank Wisner, our special envoy to Egypt and Barack Obama's point man for managing the ongoing crisis there, planted a big wet kiss on Hosni Mubarak over the weekend when he told attendees of a German security conference that Mubarak "must stay in office," which is not even remotely close to what Barack Obama has been saying.

Why would Wisner throw Mubarak a lifeline? Perhaps because he's a client of Wisner's law firm.

Wisner, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Egypt and India, cashed out at the State Department and now works as a foreign affairs adviser for Patton Boggs, the ludicrously juiced law firm and lobbying operation that secretly runs everything in Washington. And Patton Boggs has extensive ties to Mubarak's regime. From the law firm's web site:

Patton Boggs has been active in Egypt for 20 years. We have advised the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and have handled arbitrations and litigation on the government's behalf in Europe and the US. Our attorneys also represent some of the leading Egyptian commercial families and their companies, and we have been involved in oil and gas and telecommunications infrastructure projects on their behalf.

On of those "leading Egyptian commercial families" is that of Ahmed Ezz, a loathed steel magnate and close confidant of Mubarak's son Gamal who has been accused by protesters of "suck[ing] the blood of the people" by using his party connections to lock down the steel market. According to lobbying disclosure reports filed with the Senate, Patton Boggs (though not Wisner himself) lobbied on behalf of Ezz to the tune of $20,000 in 2007. And foreign agent registrations on file with the Department of Justice show that the firm entered into a retainer agreement with the Egyptian Embassy in 1990. It's unclear how long that relationship lasted, but a Patton Boggs representative told Salon's Elliott Justin that with the exception of a "small legal matter last year" that it worked on for the Egyptian Embassy—i.e., Mubarak—the firm hasn't done any Egypt work since the mid-1990s.

Anyway, it would be shocking to imagine that Wisner's out-of-tune support for the Egyptian dictator would have anything to do with his law firm's long-standing relationships with Mubarak cronies. Also, before Wisner worked at Patton Boggs, he spent 12 years at AIG. So there's that.

[Photo of Wisner via Getty Images]