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Dole Registers As Taiwan Agent

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bob Dole, who ran for the White House with an all-American resume, now will be earning income stamped ``Made in Taiwan.''

Dole registered with the Justice Department Jan. 6 as a foreign agent for Taiwan. His law firm said he'll being working as an adviser and won't be lobbying his former colleagues in Congress.

``Senator Dole does not intend to engage in any lobbying of members of Congress or the administration,'' said additional registration papers filed by Dole's firm on Monday.

The 1996 Republican presidential candidate will provide ``strategic advice and counseling,'' said John A. Merrigan, a partner at Dole's Washington law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand. The contract between the firm and Taiwan calls for payments of $30,000 a month, Merrigan said.

On the campaign trail in October 1996, Dole harshly criticized President Clinton and the Democratic Party for accepting illegal foreign donations.

Once at the end of the campaign, he even assured voters that his ``actions are not for sale to some foreign influence or some foreign interests.''

Dole did not return calls to his office seeking comment Monday. His wife, Elizabeth Dole, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Republican presidential ticket in 2000.

Merrigan, the partner at Dole's firm, said the former Senate majority leader always has been a strong supporter of Taiwan and ``that was an important factor to him.''

The contract is with the Taiwanese government-controlled Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.

The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but American diplomats deal with the island through the cultural office, which operates like an embassy.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province.

Although it is not likely, Dole's filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act -- first reported in the Legal Times -- could affect the $150,000 line of credit he offered to House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The speaker could draw on the credit to help pay a $300,000 penalty for violating House standards of conduct in conjunction with his former tax-exempt activities.

Gingrich informed the House ethics committee that if Dole became a registered lobbyist during the term of the agreement -- which lasts through Jan. 2, 1999 -- a replacement loan would be needed.

However, the foreign agent law under which Dole registered requires registration for a range of activities on behalf of foreign governments that go beyond lobbying.

Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, chairman of the ethics panel, and ranking Rep. Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat, said in a statement they recognized the distinction.

``Registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, in and of itself, does not indicate whether lobbying of Congress will be undertaken,'' they said. ``The committee is in the process of ascertaining whether such activities are intended.''

Gingrich's spokeswoman, Christina Martin, said the speaker has not drawn on Dole's line of credit. Gingrich has paid $50,000 toward the loan from his own pocket and has another personal payment due June 1.

Martin said if the ethics committee decides the arrangement with Dole is invalid, ``the speaker would simply follow their guidance.'' She added that it ``may never be necessary'' for Gingrich to use Dole's line of credit.

Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved.