A CNN analyst and Democratic operative who says the Republican Party opposes gay rights has registered to lobby as a foreign agent of the government of Liberia, which criminalizes homosexuality.
Bakari Sellers will work for the Liberian government to promote President George Weah to African-American audiences, according to a contract that Sellers's firm, Strom Public Affairs, filed this week with the Justice Department. The $10,000-per-month contract calls for Sellers to identify American media opportunities for Weah that will present him as "an emerging voice for the future of Africa."
While the United States has positive relations with Liberia, the State Department has flagged "significant" human rights issues in the African nation, including arbitrary police killings, serious restrictions on the free press, child labor violations, and legal prohibitions on same-sex conduct between adults.
Liberia is 1 of nearly 70 nations that criminalize homosexuality. Same-sex acts are punishable by up to one year in prison, and gay marriage is outlawed. Jewel Taylor, the vice president of Liberia, in 2012 proposed a law that would make homosexual acts a felony punishable by death. Taylor is the ex-wife of Charles Taylor, a former Liberian president and convicted war criminal.
Liberia's anti-gay laws appear to conflict with Sellers's record as a pundit and attorney. Sellers, who served in the South Carolina House of Representatives through 2014, has repeatedly accused Republicans in the United States of opposing gay rights. He asked then-candidate Donald Trump in a 2016 tweet to comment on the "oppression of gays in Russia." He said that Mike Pence would start the first 2016 vice-presidential debate with "a prayer for 'The Gays.'" And he won a 2017 case before the South Carolina Supreme Court that made domestic violence laws apply to same-sex couples.
Sellers did not respond to a request for comment.