- Battered Ecuador hires coronavirus crisis manager; Iran-Contra figure lobbies on latest Latin America election dispute; Meet the lobbyists tied to Bolton’s accusations against Trump; Dovish Quincy Institute sheds light on Taiwan’s influence on think-tanks’ China hawks
1. Ecuador hires Obama PR man to improve reputation battered by coronavirus
Ecuador is having the worst coronavirus of any developing nation. So it turned to that tried-and-true solution: Hiring a crisis manager. Florida public relations firm Balsera Communications is tasked with developing “communications strategies and tactics to counter the perception of an Ecuador besieged by the coronavirus and lacking a cohesive response.” Read our story here.
2. Iran-Contra figure lobbies on latest Latin America election dispute
Tell us if this has a familiar ring to it: A pro-opposition group seeking US help in replacing an oil-rich Latin American government is getting a helping hand from one of the figures in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal. This time it’s Guyana, where the Organization of American States is calling on President David Granger to step down after a recount confirmed that he lost the country’s March elections. The opposition isn’t taking any chances and has assembled a team of lobbyists to make the case for US help in ousting Granger if need be, including veteran Western Hemisphere official Otto Reich. Read our story here.
3. Meet the lobbyists tied to Bolton’s accusations against Trump
John Bolton‘s new tell-all book about the Donald Trump presidency accuses his former boss of offering to go easy on foreign companies in exchange for political favors. You won’t want to miss our run-down of the allegations — and the web of lobbying firms involved.
4. Spotlight on Taiwan
Eli Clifton over at the dovish Quincy Institute takes a deep dive into all the money Taiwan is pouring into US think-tanks, many of which then go on to tout stronger US-Taiwan military ties. The stand-out quote from Ben Freeman of the Center for International Policy: “For most people in this town, Taiwan doesn’t have the scarlet letter that funding from Saudi Arabia or China would, but it begs the question, why not just disclose at the front of a report, ‘We get funding from this government.” Check out Clifton’s article here.
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
Akin Gump is lobbying on “issues relating to US steel industry competitiveness” for Vallourec USA, the US subsidiary of French steel tube manufacturer Vallourec. Justin McCarthy, a former Assistant United States Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs and special assistant for legislative affairs for President George W. Bush, is the sole registered lobbyist on the account. The registration was effective April 23.
Akin Gump is lobbying on “issues related to the healthcare supply chain” for Global Healthcare Exchange, a Colorado-based healthcare supply chain technology company majority owned by Singapore’s government-owned investment firm Temasek. Lobbyists Louis Agnello, Heide Bajnrauh, Roger Murry, Julie Nolan, Todd Tuten, and Brendan Dunn, who was a top aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are registered to work on the account. The registration was effective May 1.
The Hospitality, Travel, and Events Recovery Coalition, which is made up of travel and entertainment companies including the Netherlands-based Booking.com, hired McGuireWoods Consulting to lobby on “travel, tourism, and entertainment industry relief and recovery legislative proposals” effective May 1. Registered to work on the account are: Former 2016 Trump campaign director of Senate and gubernatorial outreach Robert Wasinger; former associate deputy attorney general Greg Walden; Michael Drobac; and Amanda Armistead.
Mynaric USA, the US subsidiary of German laser company Mynaric, hired Aerospace Intelligence to lobby on “laser communication” issues effective Feb. 15. Douglas Harpel is the only lobbyist registered on the account.
In other news
Poland: The White House announced today that Polish President Andrzej Duda would meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on June 24, four days before the country’s June 28 presidential election. The two leaders will discuss “further advancing our cooperation on defense, as well as trade, energy, and telecommunications security,” according to the White House.
Ukraine: The State Department approved the sale of 16 Mark VI Patrol Boats to Ukraine for $600 million. The approval comes less than a week after the Pentagon announced $250 million in defensive lethal assistance that President Donald Trump had suspended last year.
Turkey: The Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK) has postponed today’s webinar with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) until next Wednesday, June 24. Don’t miss our piece on how Turkey is using US-China tensions to position itself as a US trade partner in Africa.
Hong Kong: A US panel today recommended that the Federal Communications Commission deny an application by the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) to build an underwater cable system between the United States and Hong Kong. The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector cited national security concerns because a significant investor in the PLCN is a Hong Kong subsidiary of the Dr. Peng Group, the fourth largest provider of telecommunications services in China. In September 2019 Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) sent a letter (downloadable here) to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to block the application.