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Lobbyists bring unwanted attention to law firm

Dallas Morning News, January 24, 2006:

Lobbyists are hired for their connections. But as Washington sorts through a growing lobbying scandal, the past connections of two lobbyists hired last fall by Locke Liddell & Sapp are bringing unwanted attention to the powerful Dallas law firm.

The two men, Roy Coffee and David DiStefano, have been connected to a foreign company's attempt to work around U.S. sanctions against Iran and sell airplane parts to that nation – an attempt that centered on U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican accused in lobbyist Jack Abramoff's recent plea agreement of accepting bribes.


FN Aviation hired Mr. Coffee and Mr. DiStefano as lobbyists to "monitor trade legislation," according to mandatory lobbying disclosure filings. Mr. Coffee was paid about $220,000 by FN in 2003, according to those filings. Mr. DiStefano was paid about $20,000.

Mr. Coffee said the two men arranged for FN officials to meet with Mr. Ney. In February 2003, Mr. Ney flew to London on a three-day trip paid for by the company. He reported on House disclosure forms that the trip was valued at $2,707 and concerned "trade and international business matters."

There, he met with Mr. Winfield and Mr. al-Zayat, who said they wanted to sell airplane parts to Iran but were prevented by U.S. sanctions against the country. They were seeking a special government permit that could allow them to get around the sanctions.