Advocacy, New in Lobbying

Anti-Islam group restarts lobbying activities

The controversial nonprofit organization headed by anti-Islam firebrand Brigitte Gabriel renewed its lobbying operations today following a months-long hiatus.

Gregory Allen, who is listed as ACT! for America‘s chief operating officer on the organization’s 2018 tax filing, is notably expected to lobby on anti-terrorism legislation, support for Israel, immigration restrictions and efforts to curtail Chinese influence.

The filing comes just days after ACT submitted a late lobbying filing indicating it had stopped lobbying on Oct. 1, 2019 after spending $720,000 over the past decade to champion right-wing national security legislation on Capitol Hill. Lisa Piraneo, the previous lobbyist on the account, joined the US State Department as a senior adviser to the US Mission to the United Nations in April 2020, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Neither Gabriel nor Piraneo responded to requests for comment.

ACT and Piraneo first registered to lobby in April 2009. Gabriel, a Lebanese-born Christian, formed the group in 2007 to push back against what she called the “threat of radical Islam,” including unfounded accusations that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the Barack Obama administration. ACT has been called a hate group by liberal organizations including the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Piraneo, a former staffer to ex-Reps. Sue Myrick, R-S.C., Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Robert Walker, R-Penn., served as ACT’s director of government relations from 2009 to 2016 and continued to lobby for the group after setting up her own consulting firm, Camvia, in 2017. ACT has notably lobbied for anti-Shariah and counter-terrorism legislation but has increasingly focused on current Republican priorities, including building a wall at the US border with Mexico and adopting a tough line against China.

Gabriel boasted of having a “direct line” to the White House following President Donald Trump‘s election, but recent events suggest ACT has been losing influence. The week after ACT shut down its lobbying operations, the Trump Organization cancelled the group’s annual fundraiser that had been scheduled to take place at the president’s private club at Mar-a-Lago following a slew of negative publicity.

At the time, Gabriel denounced what she called “a full throttle smear campaign” and launched an online fundraising petition. The effort raised $13,253, far short of the $50,000 sought, according to Gabriel’s Facebook fundraiser page.

This post was updated at 5:25 p.m. on June 1 to note ACT! for America has restarted its lobbying.