Excerpt from HFAC letter to Ambassador Todd Chapman, a career diplomat who has been COM at the US Embassy in Brazil since March 2020. He was previously Ambassador to Ecuador from 2016 – 2019:
“We are extremely alarmed by a report in Brazilian newspaper O Globo yesterday which stated that while lobbying your counterparts on reducing ethanol tariffs, you raised “the importance for the Bolsonaro government of maintaining Donald Trump as U.S. President.” The article further stated, “Iowa is the largest ethanol producer in the United States…and could be a key player in Trump’s election. Hence the importance – according to Chapman – for the Bolsonaro government to do the U.S. a favor.”
These statements are completely inappropriate for a U.S. ambassador to make, and if true, would be a potential violation of the Hatch Act of 1939. We ask that you respond in writing by 5:00 p.m. EST on August 4th as to whether the allegations in the aforementioned article (attached to this correspondence) are true. Specifically, please provide us with a complete description of all conversations that you have had with Brazilian government officials in the executive and legislative branches with regard to ethanol tariffs and the U.S. presidential election. If you deny these allegations, please provide complete and unredacted copies of any and all documents referring or related to any discussions you have had with Brazilian government officials in the executive and legislative branches with regard to ethanol tariffs, to reassure Congress and the American people that our Ambassador to Brazil is truly representing the interests of the United States and not the narrow, political interests of President Trump.
The Des Moines Register printed a denial from the State Department:
“Allegations suggesting that Ambassador Chapman has asked Brazilians to support a specific U.S. candidate are false,” said a department spokesperson. “The United States has long been focused on reducing tariff barriers and will continue to do so.”
Allegations suggesting that the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine …. oh, wait, that was different, silly.
But as Pompeo’s new motto insistently says dear ones, “distrust and verify”.
So what motivated the Brazilians for making this public? More than one source reported this on Brazilian media. Is Foggy Bottom saying they’re making this all up? To what end?
Look, Ambassador Chapman is a Senate confirmed career diplomat. As such, he has an obligation to respond to questions that U.S. senators may have on this issue. But the SFRC under GOP Senator Jim Risch doesn’t seem at all interested in asking further questions. No surprise there. The HFAC is asking questions, however, and we hope the ambassador answer those questions.
For folks in the FOIA business, if/if there were instructions related to this, there would have to be a paper trail from the State Department’s WHA bureau, the home bureau of U.S. Mission Brazil. Ambassadors typically get their marching orders from their home bureau.
⬇️ The lawmakers asked for further information about the report. ⬇️https://t.co/E2aWGmTSAL
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) August 1, 2020
Members of House Foreign Affairs Committee said Friday they were “extremely alarmed” by assertions that the American ambassador in Brazil had signaled to Brazilian officials they could help get President Trump re-elected by changing their trade policies. https://t.co/sX6a3Tqm2y
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) August 1, 2020
The U.S. State Department denied reports that Ambassador Todd Chapman asked Brazil to cut its ethanol tariff as a favor to President Trump. https://t.co/OHKmitTQ50
— DM Register Business (@DMRbiz) August 3, 2020
Ambassador Chapman lobbied for a reduction on the country’s import tariffs on American ethanol by claiming that this policy change would benefit Bolsonaro's government by assisting Trump’s re-election.
We filed a complaint.https://t.co/zMVniXdnvw
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) August 7, 2020
The budding friendship between the presidents of the U.S. and Brazil faces a new test as negotiators for both countries come head-to-head over the politically sensitive issue of ethanol tariffs. https://t.co/frIczhuN8S
— Agri-Pulse Communications (@agripulse) August 5, 2020
The 20% Brazilian import tax on U.S. ethanol expires in August. Media reports say U.S. govt asked BZL govt to not renew it, something that could help Trump's reelection campaign. Brazil sugar & ethanol industry wants the renewal, particularly due to the weak fuel market
— Marcelo Teixeira (@tx_marcelo) August 3, 2020
Parlamentar brasileiro confirma que embaixador dos EUA no Brasil fez lobby por livre comércio de etanol para ajudar reeleição de Trump https://t.co/cZOGiTZ7SA
— O Globo | Mundo (@OGlobo_Mundo) August 2, 2020
— O Globo | Mundo (@OGlobo_Mundo) August 1, 2020