Haley Barbour, Washington lobbyist and former governor of Mississippi, was arrested on January 2 when a loaded pistol was discovered in his briefcase at an airport security checkpoint. Barbour, who is also a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and denizen of the Reagan White House, will pay a fine for the infraction. The incident occurred when Barbour was seeking to board a flight from Jackson, Mississippi, to Washington D.C. It came almost a year after questions were raised about Barbour's lobbying activities on behalf of the Russian government.

According to AP, Barbour said that that an assistant had taken his briefcase out of his car and that his pistol was still in it. "This was absentmindedness and nobody’s fault but mine," he told the AP.

At the Jackson MS airport checkpoint, security officers saw Barbour's .38 caliber revolver on an X-ray of the briefcase when Barbour was seeking to board his flight. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) contacted airport police, who then arrested Barbour. The gun was loaded with five bullets.

Barbour was neither handcuffed nor had his photograph taken by police. “They did exactly what they should have done, which was treat me like anybody else.” He described the police and TSA as "very nice but very professional." He will pay a fine of at least $3,920. 

Barbour is a partner at BGR Group, a public relations and lobbying firme that earned nearly $24 million in revenue in 2017. 

BGR Group became the focus of attention in Washington in January 2017 when it was revealed that the firm lobbied for Uranium One -- the very same company that is now owned by Rosatom, a company owned by the Russian government. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton approved a deal to allow Rosatom to purchase Uranium One and give Russia control over 20 percent of American uranium, allegedly in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation. BGR had failed to to register under the FARA law (Foreign Agents Registration Act). Failure to do so can result in fines of up to $10,000 and up to five years in prison. Two of President Donald Trump's former aides, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, are being charged with failure to register under FARA, among other allegations. The charge is considered a conspiracy against the United States.

In a November 2017 letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley,  who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote that he was concerned about BGR and two other firms: the Podesta Group -- owned by Tony Podesta, the brother of former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta -- and Kountoupes Denham. According to Sen. Grassley, BGR "lobbied both houses of Congress and the executive branch.” Barbour’s group “provided strategic counsel and assistance” for the Uranium One deal.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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