A Republican candidate for Arizona's open U.S. Senate seat is touting his background as a lobbyist for Namibian companies with ties to Iran in a Facebook post as a way to ward off attacks about his lack of private sector experience.
Rep. Jeff Flake, who is locked in a competitive GOP Senate primary, posted on Facebook on Wednesday morning a defense of his private sector expertise. This background is something that he has alternatively promoted and taken off his official biographies. The Facebook post comes as Flake's primary opponent, businessman Wil Cardon, has said Flake is a career politician.
"After returning to the United States, I formed Interface Public Affairs, which provided public affairs representation to Namibian companies and translation services to U.S. entities," Flake wrote in the Facebook entry, citing what he did after spending a year in Namibia in the early 1990s.
In an April National Journal interview, Flake said that he was a registered foreign agent and lobbied for various Namibian companies, including Rossing Uranium, a mining company with Iranian investors. He said at the time that he had been up-front about his background.
The Huffington Post reported last month that Flake had included the Namibian lobbying stint in his 2000 campaign biography yet dropped it in subsequent campaigns and on his congressional website.
In the Facebook post, Flake also notes that his first job after college was a one-year stint with a public affairs firm in Washington, before he and his wife, Cheryl, moved to Namibia. where he headed a foundation dedicated to the country's independence movement. Flake touted as well his work as executive director of the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, a conservative-leaning advocacy group in Arizona, along with noting a stint as a teenaged ranch hand and two jobs in college.
"After returning to Arizona in 1992, I went to work at the Goldwater Institute as its executive director (and sole employee) in borrowed space," Flake wrote. "Seven years later, when I ran for Congress, the Goldwater Institute had an annual budget of a million dollars, a new $2 million headquarters and nearly a dozen employees."
Cardon, a Republican backed by the Tea Party, has been trumpeting his business credentials in the competitive race. The winner will face Democrat Richard Carmona, a former Bush administration surgeon general, in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican.