A report from Fox News states that Democrat U.S. Senate Candidate Mike Espy was hired to lobby on behalf of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo and netted $750,000 for the job.

Espy originally told The Hill that he never completed the contract with the Cocoa and Coffee Board of the Ivory Coast in February 2011 and only took $400,000.  Espy stated, “I have voluntarily suspended it.  Events are spiraling rapidly. It is very difficult to work in that context.”

However, paperwork Espy filed clearly shows that he was paid an additional $350,000 on March 1, 2011, two weeks after telling the Hill that he had suspended the contract a few weeks before that.

Even more enlightening is a December 2010 New York Times article states that Espy appeared on Ivorian TV for Gbagbo in support of his administration.

“Mr. Espy, who was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment, had been in Ivory Coast this week making appearances on state television in support of Mr. Gbagbo’s administration.”

Y’all Politics reached out to the Espy campaign to determine whether or not Espy’s appearance on Ivorian TV was connected to the Coffee/Cocoa Board lobbying engagement.  The Espy campaign was unwilling to provide comment to our questions.

However, Danny Blanton, Espy Spokesman, did provide the following quote for FoxNews.

“Secretary Espy worked on agricultural issues for international clients.  Over the course of that work, he realized one of those clients didn’t pass the smell test, so he terminated the contract, and then reported what he knew to the U.S. government.”

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Currently, Gbagbo is on trial for war crimes. He’s charged with crimes against humanity, defined as rape, persecution, murder or attempted murder. In 2010, he lost his bid for re-election but refused to concede, which led to widespread violence throughout Africa. He’s currently the first head of state to ever be taken into the International Court’s custody.

More on Laurent Gbagbo

The mandate for Gbagbo’s presidency lapsed in 2005, but he managed to stave off the election several times before it was held. When the election results showed Alassane Ouattara as the clear winner with 54% when the Independent Election Council (CEI) certified them in 2010, Gbagbo refused to acknowledge the results.

Gbagbo and his supporters claimed that the Northern Region of the Ivory Coast (where rebels were living) was wrought with voter fraud and contested the results.

With Gbagbo refusing to step down, violence ensued.  On December 16, 2010, Ivory Coast Troops fired on protestors. Dozens were killed. Between February 25-28, 2011, women gathered in protest against Gbagbo. Troops opened fire on the protestors. Six women died.

He was later arrested by special forces in a bunker.

It took airstrikes from the French and the U.N. and a path of destruction leaving hundreds dead before Gbagbo surrendered in April 2010. 

In the charges against Gbagbo, it is alleged that violence was not only encouraged but part of the plan to keep power for the West African leader. In addition to the events above, checkpoints were held, and pro-Ouattara victims were burned by Gbagbo supporters.

Gbagbo is still currently on trial.