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Jamaica’s Manatt Commission Debates Washington Lobbyists

A heated battle took place at the Manatt Commission of Enquiry today in Kingston, as lawyers debated the place of lobbyists in Jamaican history. Frank Phipps, attorney for the Jamaica Labour Party, attempted to support the proposition that the practice of governments employing lobbyists was not unusual. The lobbying at issue, of course, was that employed during the Christopher Coke extradition crisis, when the high-powered Washington law firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, was retained to lobby the U.S. government against the extradition. At the center of the inquiry is just who employed the firm — the Jamaican government, or the Jamaica Labour Party. In his testimony Monday, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that the PNP had, during its reign, employed lobbyists on its behalf. Phipps argued that Fenton Communications, also based in Washington, had been employed by the P.J. Patterson administration.

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