Mike Johnson's top policy staffer is a former lobbyist with Ukraine ties: report

 April 18, 2024

House Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-LA) sudden push to support Ukraine has led to backlash from Republicans who say he is breaking a pledge to focus on America's domestic priorities.

A report in Breitbart found that Johnson's top policy staffer, Dan Ziegler, is a former lobbyist for corporations that have interests tied to Ukraine.

For months, Johnson tied foreign aid for Ukraine with border security, but he has untangled the two issues under mounting pressure from Republican hawks and the White House.

The Speaker is pushing for a vote Saturday on a $95 billion, multi-part foreign aid bill that has won backing from President Biden.

Why did Mike Johnson flip?

Sources credited Johnson's shift to the influence of Dan Ziegler and Josh Hodges, Johnson's national security adviser.

"Mike used to vote differently. What changed? Who’s he talking to now? That’s Ziegler and Hodges,” an anonymous source told Breitbart. 

Ziegler previously worked for Johnson when he chaired the Republican Study Committee and returned to Johnson's payroll when he won the Speaker's gavel.

In the interim, Ziegler was a lobbyist at Williams & Jensen. The firm's clients include pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, Merck, and Eli Lilly, as well as big financial firms like Vanguard and Visa.

Another client was Bloom Energy, a California fuel cell company that received $75 million in Biden tax credits. The company has a direct stake in the conflict in Ukraine, which has benefited the Western "clean energy" industry.

Johnson's pivot

With a handful of Republicans threatening to oust him, Johnson said this week that he would be willing to jeopardize his job to pass foreign aid for Ukraine - after he spent months blocking it.

The Speaker spoke in lofty terms, saying, "history judges us for what we do."

Despite Johnson's soaring rhetoric, the actual reasons for his change of heart appear to be more calculated. The proof may be in Joe Biden's glowing endorsement of Johnson's foreign aid bill.

"I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: we stand with our friends, and we won't let Iran or Russia succeed," Biden said.

It remains to be seen whether Johnson will actually lose his job, but in the eyes of many, Johnson has already been compromised by politics.

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