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.
Religious discrimination charge against Kuwait falls flat with State Department
A massive lobbying campaign to paint Kuwait as a religious rights abuser has failed to gain traction with the Donald Trump administration.
Over the past year, Kuwaiti investment firm KGL Investment has spent more than $1.5 million to pressure the Gulf country to drop embezzlement charges against former KGL Investment executive Marsha Lazareva. Led by Washington-based law firm Crowell and Moring, the effort has notably brought together a coalition of conservative voices — some registered as lobbyists, some not — who describe the Russian-born, US-educated Lazareva as unfairly treated by the majority-Muslim emirate because of her Orthodox Christian faith.
But on Wednesday, the State Department opted not to give extra credence to the accusations of religious discrimination against Lazareva when it released its annual report on International Religious Freedom. Far from repeating the claims made by her defenders, the US government’s highest-profile report on religious freedom around the world makes no mention of Lazareva at all and instead praises Kuwait in several instances.
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NEW IN LOBBYING
BUSINESS AND TRADE
Former telecomms agency chief registers to lobby for Luxembourg satellite giant in $15 billion 5G spectrum shakeup
The former head of the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has registered to lobby on a massive shakeup of the US electromagnetic spectrum on behalf of the US subsidiary of Luxembourg satellite giant SES SA months after he started advising the company.
David Redl’s consulting firm, Salt Point Strategies, registered to lobby for SES Americom Inc. effective June 1. Redl is slated to lobby on “issues related to C-Band auction” as the US government looks to incentivize satellite companies to free up space for next-generation 5G networks by moving to another part of the spectrum.
Public records filed with the FCC by SES outside counsel Sheppard Mullin show Redl had been acting as an “adviser” to SES for months before his registration as a lobbyist.
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LOBBYING ODDS & ENDS
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
Canada: Canadian hemp and cannabis manufacturer Canopy Growth Corporation has hired Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies to lobby on “cannabis and hemp agricultural issues.” Cozen O’Connor will also lobby for the SAFE Banking Act allowing banks to work with the cannabis industry and the STATES Act, which would remove the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that regulate marijuana use and sales.
Telecom Infra Project, the industry trade organization founded by Facebook to build and deploy global telecom network infrastructure, has hired Access Partnership Corp to lobby on “issues related to telecommunications competition, telecommunications funding, OpenRAN, OpenCore, 5G Security, BUILD Act implementations, Digital Connectivity & Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP).” The filing lists Britain’s Vodafone and Spain’s Telefonica as foreign entities with direct stakes in the lobbying effort.
IN OTHER NEWS
ICC: The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borell, called President Donald Trump‘s decision on Thursday to authorize sanctions against the International Criminal Court a “matter of serious concern.” The court is looking into alleged war crimes by US troops in Afghanistan.
Israel: America’s main pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is telling lawmakers they won’t lose its support if they criticize West Bank annexation plans as long as military aid to Israel isn’t on the hook, Ron Kampeas reports in the Times of Israel.
Lebanon: Two US citizens filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday against Lebanese banks BLC Bank,Credit Libanais and Al-Mawarid Bank as well as the country’s central bank, Banque du Liban, claiming they were “preyed upon by the Ponzi scheme that is the Lebanese banking system.” Joseph Daou and Karen Daou filed the suit in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Squire Patton Boggs has been retained to lobby for Al-Mawarid since 2015 but has not reported any payments (over the $5,000 reporting threshold) from the bank for the past four years. The Lebanese Pound has lost more than half its value since October amid a prolonged financial crisis.