GOP power broker Haley Barbour's lobby shop, BGR Group, represents a Russian bank that has financed a company that helped build Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, according to corporate documents and lobbying disclosure records. The bank is owned by a secretive oligarch, Mikhail Fridman, who has met at least twice with White House officials in the last few years, according to visitor logs.The first thing that strikes me about this is how tenuous the connection is: Gov. Barbour's firm represents a Russian bank that lent money to a nuclear power company that had contracts with Iran, who built a nuclear power plant which will enrich uranium that can be used in nuclear weapons. Furthermore, this happened during the period of time when Barbour was Governor, and ostensibly not involved with the management of BGR.
This is coming to light, of course, because of Barbour's dalliance with the idea of running for president. In a field not exactly full to the brim with capable Republicans, Barbour would have had a good shot at the Republican nomination. Mysteriously, though, Barbour backed away from the race after supposedly reading an opposition research report on himself. Speculation has been abundant about what it was in the report that led Barbour to give up the ghost. I'm not sure we'll ever know, but this may have been a factor.
That doesn't mean Barbour is immune to criticism on this issue, as his incendiary rhetoric about Iran now rings more than a bit hollow. To hear Barbour talk, you'd think he'd start a war with Iran yesterday, if it were up to him. Yet his partners at BGR have been making money off of the company financing the construction of Iran's nuclear program. There's more than a touch of hypocrisy there.