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Former Florida Rep. Connie Mack registers as lobbyist for Colombia’s Uribe

Ex-congressman Connie Mack (R-Fla.) has formally registered as a foreign agent for Alvaro Uribe weeks after he started publicly defending the former Colombian president in a years-old investigation into mass killings during Uribe’s time in office.

Mack’s Liberty International Group is providing “communications and public affairs support” on Uribe’s behalf as a subcontractor to the DCI Group, a Republican lobbying and public relations firm. The agreement was effective Aug. 31.

The DCI Group was hired by 31416 S.A.S., a company in Medellin run by Uribe’s son Tomas Uribe Moreno, for $40,000 per month on Aug. 21. The contract runs through Nov. 30. Mack is to be paid by DCI according to work orders that have yet to be made public. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The campaign comes as Uribe is fighting allegations that he pressured witnesses into retracting damaging statements about his alleged links to right-wing paramilitary groups responsible for several massacres in the country’s war against left-wing militants. The country’s Supreme Court sentenced him to house arrest in early August, an unprecedented order in the nation’s recent history that was overturned earlier this month.

Mack served in Congress from 2005 until 2013, notably chairing the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Western Hemisphere panel. He publicly joined DCI’s “Free Uribe” advocacy campaign back in early September.

Former Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-Fla.)

“I am honored to defend the integrity of Alvaro Uribe against false attacks, and defend the importance of the vital U.S. partnership with Colombia that Uribe played a central role in creating, and his accusers are determined to destroy,” Mack said in a press release at the time.

Since then the former congressman has joined attacks against left-wing Colombia senator Van Cepeda, whom Uribe accuses of orchestrating a plot to link him to right-wing paramilitaries.

In a Sept. 15 post for the Free Uribe campaign, he accused Cepeda of being the principal political ally of Colombia’s left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. Cepeda and the FARC, he wrote., have been “waging an intense, well-funded propaganda war” against Uribe and the enduring bilateral security relationship he helped build with the United States.

On Oct. 22, Mack followed up with a letter to Cepeda pressing him for answers regarding alleged ties to two FARC rebels who are fugitives from justice in the United States. US Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray are copied on the letter.

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“You have repeatedly made accusations of criminal wrongdoing against political adversaries, such as former president Alvaro Uribe Velez, for whom I have proudly advocated in the United States as a former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives and longtime friend,” Mack wrote. “I believe the American people deserve to know the truth about your possible involvement in over a decade of criminal activity among your associates and political allies.”

A key US ally in the war on drugs during the George W. Bush administration, Uribe retains powerful friends in the United States, particularly among Republicans. President Donald Trump himself tweeted his congratulations following his release from house arrest.

Mack previously lobbied for Luis Andrade, a US citizen accused of corruption in Columbia who was eventually allowed to return to the United States. Mack Strategies and the Liberty International Group reported a total of $150,000 in payments from Andrade between August 2018 and the end of 2019.

“The persecution of Luis exemplifies the general backsliding of the democratic institutions of Colombia in recent years,” Mack wrote in an August 2018 op-ed in The Hill.