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Daily Digest for Tuesday, June 2

Welcome to Foreign Lobby Report’s end-of-the-day roundup, where you’ll find all our latest stories plus links to related Washington news.


Polish foundation tied to ruling party ends US PR deal after backlash over lavish spending

A Polish foundation tied to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party has ended ties with Ronald Reagan speechwriter Clark Judge‘s PR firm after its lavish spending on the account came under fire.

Judge’s White House Writers Group officially terminated its contract with the Polish National Foundation on April 28, according to the group’s lobbying disclosure for the six months through April. The filing however says the firm did not engage in “any actions or activities on behalf of the” foundation after Dec. 31 but that “due to delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, activities for an orderly and comprehensive conclusion were not completed until April.”

Read the full story here.



Barbados asks Rep. Waters for help against ‘damaging’ EU money-laundering listing

The Prime Minister of Barbados is asking House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., for backup in its lobbying fight against a new European Union directive listing the Caribbean nation as a “high risk” country.

“Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, my Attorney-General [Dale Marshall] and Professor Avinash Persaud,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley wrote to Waters on May 21, according to a newly disclosed lobbying filing. “You asked us to identify the most critical issues where we need your help. We have identified just two, separate, but related issues. First, the region’s acute vulnerability to COVID-19 while the region is being denied access to concessionary finance, and second, the ‘blacklisting’ of members of the region by the EU at this sensitive and critical moment.”

In the letter to Waters, Mottley warned that the blacklisting, which was announced by the EU in early May, would “cause damage” to the economies of Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and others “at this most critical time.” Its effects, Mottley writes, “would be both unjustified and disproportionate, particularly given these countries history of good faith cooperation with the EU.”

Waters’ committee did not respond to a request for comment about her intentions regarding the request. Waters is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has had historically close ties to the Caribbean.

Mottley went on to decry what she called a blacklisting process that was “was not established in a transparent process, with clear and concrete benchmarks” and did not respect her country’s “right to be heard or allow it to undergo reforms to avoid being listed.” The letter also sought Waters’ help in pressing the international community to extend the restructuring of debt arrangements with creditors for nations with “acute vulnerabilities” to the coronavirus crisis.

The EU regulation is set to go into effect Oct. 1.

Barbados has come under scrutiny in recent years for its alleged laxity regarding money laundering. In January, a US federal jury found former Minister of Industry Donville Inniss guilty of transferring $36,000 in bribes from Barbados to the US.

The letter to Waters was distributed by lobbying firm theGroup DC on behalf of the Barbados government. Firm founder Arthur Collins, partner Darrel Thompson and partner Sudafi Henry are registered to lobby on the account and are in frequent contact with Waters.


Fenton helped get Pakistan PM on ‘Morning Joe’ as part of Kashmir contract

New York PR firm Fenton Communications is claiming credit for Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program during which Khan lambasted India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status and took President Donald Trump up on his offer to help with the crisis.

Khan’s Sept. 26, 2019 appearance was part of Fenton’s $50,000 contract with the International Humanitarian Foundation, a Houston-based organization that supports India’s withdrawal from the disputed territory and calls Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a Nazi. Fenton’s engagement letter was addressed to Sajjad Burki, the US representative of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

The contract aimed to “educate the US media and public about the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir” and lasted a little over a week, from Sept. 19 to Sept. 30. At the time Modi and Khan were in the US to speak at the UN General Assembly.

Fenton chairman David Fenton and senior communications officer Ira Arlook worked on the account. They also disclosed distributing a five-page backgrounder entitled, “Religious Hatred in India & Global Security: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-Muslim party founded by Nazi sympathizers.”

“We helped arrange for the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, to meet with journalists and appear on Morning Joe on MSNBC during his September visit to the United Nations,” Fenton wrote in its latest lobbying filing, which covers work done in the six months through March. “The purpose was to push for international assistance with the crisis in Kashmir.”

The firm said it had received more than $50,000 from people, companies, and organizations in late September and early October. David Fenton himself reportedly met with Khan on his visit.


Justice Department makes public its lobbying disclosure orders

Transparency fans, rejoice.

The US Justice Department’s lobbying enforcement arm has just added a section to its web site containing its so-called “letters of determination” ordering would-be influencers to sign up as foreign agents. The letters spell out the department’s rationale for demanding that people register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the Nazi-era anti-propaganda law that regulates foreign lobbying in the United States.

Some of the letters, notably the 2017 determination that former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort should register as an agent of Ukrainian interests, had previously been publicly accessible, for example via the Caplin & Drysdale law firm’s invaluable informational web site.

But the newly disclosed documents do offer some interesting revelations.

For example:

  • The FARA office referenced the China Global Television Network‘s own style guide as well as interviews with past employees in its December 2018 determination that CGTN should register as an agent of the Chinese government and China Central Television (CCTV). “The Chinese govenment’s and Chinese Communist Party’s influence on CGTN America’s programming is evident in CGTN America’s Style Guide,” the office conclude. “With regard to the sensitive issue of Taiwan, for example, the Style Guide states, ‘CGTN does not call Taiwan’s leader its ‘president.’ CGTN does not show Taiwan’s flag, ever. We do not alter the flag’s appearance in photos or video. We simply crop it out’.” The network registered in August 2019.
  • The office in 2017 required Saudi citizen Salman al-Ansari to amend his registration for his Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), concluding that the “principal beneficiary” of his nominally independent anti-Qatar media campaign “was and is the Saudi government.”

“This is another in a series of steps designed to promote transparency by providing information on how we have interpreted FARA in particular cases,” Justice Department National Security Spokesman Marc Raimondi told Foreign Lobby Report.



Iran: The opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) paid DLA Piper more than $6,000 in October for unspecified legal work, according to a lobbying filing from NCRI lobbyist and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey for the six months through March. Mukasey’s sole political activity during the period were October emails and a phone call with Daniel Rhodes, a policy analyst with the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, regarding visa “issues.” The NCRI is dominated by the Albania-based People’s Mujahideen of Iran (MEK), a formerly designated US terrorist group that seeks regime change.

Marshall Islands: Akin Gump is helping the government of the Marshall Islands push for the reinstatement of Medicaid coverage for US-based citizens of the Freely Associated States (FAS) in coronavirus legislation. Congress ended Medicaid eligibility for Marshallese citizens legally residing in the US as part of the 1996 welfare reform bill.

Germany: Deutsche Telekom spent more than $3 million in the six months through April on operational expenses, including preparing documents for regulatory and court proceedings related to the $26.5 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint (Deutsche Telekom is T-Mobile’s parent company). The German company also helped fight a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of 13 states and the District of Columbia seeking to block the merger on the ground that it would reduce competition, which a judge for US District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected in February. Deutsche Telekom also says it monitors “policy developments by the Federal Communications Commission, the US Administration and the US Congress.”

United Kingdom: Steptoe and Johnson has joined the British Department of International Trade’s campaign for a trade deal with the United States as a subcontractor to Linklaters. Registered on the account are Christophe Bondy, Richard Cunningham, Thomas Trendl and Jeffrey Weiss.

Hong Kong: Jacobs Global Trade & Compliance received $195,000 from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in the six months through April for “legal advice and related services on trade-related matters.” Don’t miss our interview with the council’s Americas envoy, Ralph Chow.

Canada: Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller disclosed raising donations for his Liberal Party of Canada parliamentary campaign at a Canadian citizen’s New York home in October.

Qatar: Former Rep. Ron Klink, D-Penn., now a Qatar lobbyist at Nelson Mullins, invited Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Penn., to be his guests at the autism gala the Qataris hosted last Nov. 12 at the Anthem in Washington. Actress Lea Michele was the main entertainment.

South Korea: The Korea National Tourism Organization spent $510,000 in the six months through April to promote US tourism to the country.

Somalia: Independent Intelligence Agency, which represents the presidency of the autonomous federal Somali state of Galmudug, wrote to UN special representative and former US diplomat James Swan in April to tell him that it had evidence that he was the real intended target of the July 2019 bombing that killed Mogadishu Mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman. The letter seeks to build support for the presidential ambitions of Hussein Farrah Aidid, son of slain Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The firm did not report any political activities or payments from in the six months through April.

South Sudan: Gainful Solutions reported no political activities or fees related to its contract with the government of South Sudan in the six months through April.


Mexico: Shearman and Sterling said it conducted no lobbying on behalf of Sinaloa’s confederation of agricultural associations (CAADES) in the first quarter. The firm registered in 2012 to lobby on issues related to the “renegotiation of trade agreement regarding fresh tomatoes from Mexico” for the farmers’ cooperative.


Venezuela: Treasury Department designates four companies for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy and identifies four vessels as blocked property.

Vietnam: Commerce Department initiates national security investigation into import of vanadium, a metal used in the production of metal alloys and as a catalyst for chemicals across aerospace, defense, energy, and infrastructure sectors.

Update: This post was amended on June 3 to correct that the Qatari-supported DC autism gala took place last year.