A key strategist for state Rep. Geoffrey Diehl’s U.S. Senate campaign worked for Saudi Arabia in its lobbying effort to kill a law allowing the families of terrorism victims to sue foreign governments it held responsible for the attacks in American courts.
Holly Robichaud — who is on leave as a freelance Boston Herald columnist while she works on Republican Diehl’s campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren — registered in October to lobby on behalf of the Kingdom against the bill, which passed both houses of Congress but was vetoed by President Obama, the lone veto of his presidency.
The bill passed after Congress overrode Obama’s veto.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act was pushed as a way to keep alive court actions being undertaken by 9/11 families seeking compensation for the 2001 terror attack. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudi citizens.
Robichaud, as first reported yesterday on bostonherald.com, said she worked to advance the concerns not of Saudi Arabia, but of veterans groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, who worried the bill would open up agreements that shield U.S. service members from being sued for war actions in other countries.
“The work was strictly on the same position as the American Legion and VFW,” she said. “It opens the door for our military members to being sued, and I strictly worked to try to reform it, I did not want to repeal it. What I did was all legal, and it was strictly on veterans issues.”
Robichaud’s federal registration for the work lists the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the paying customer. Her employer, records state, is the D.C. lobbying firm MSL Group Americas, Inc. She was paid $12,000 for the work, according to the filing.
Robichaud said her work mainly involved helping concerned veterans reach members of Congress to express their opposition to parts of the bill.
Some vets who were active on the bill went on to complain publicly that they weren’t told who was paying the political consultants who were helping them exert the Congressional pressure.
Robichaud said that wasn’t the case with the vets she worked with, and “many of them already knew about the issue” before she worked with them.
Diehl first connected with Robichaud as part of the successful campaign to defeat a 2014 ballot question that would have tied Bay State gas tax increases to inflation.
Diehl said he stands by Robichaud.
“She’s worked on many campaigns in the…