Kemp made high-profile "courtesy" visits and wined and dined with Hugo Chavez and his ministers in 2002. Weeks later, a contract dated Jan. 17, 2003, was circulated between Free Market Petroleum, where Kemp is chairman, and the Chavez government. That Kemp, the GOP's 1996 vice presidential nominee, even would consider doing business with the Chavez government raises troubling ethical and political questions. . . .
Kemp has used his political capital to open doors for Chavez. In May of 2003, he tried to charm the staff of The Wall Street Journal editorial page into abandoning its opposition to Chavez's undemocratic behavior. Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez accompanied Kemp on his visit to Journal headquarters.
Alvarez was once the No. 2 man in Venezuela's Energy Ministry -the very agency that discussed business with Kemp - and yet the former Buffalo, congressman conveniently failed to disclose to the Journal his personal stake in the proposed contract between himself and the Chavez government.
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