- Nigeria’s pick to lead WTO hires lobby shop to rally support; Mercury helps grease proposed gas deal between Louisiana and Turkey; Kuwaiti royal, Thai tycoon underwrote 1MDB fugitive’s $3.4 million influence campaign; Kobre & Kim drops Chinese chipmaker; Renewable diesel company hires Texas pair to lobby on renewable fuels
Nigeria’s pick to lead WTO hires lobby shop to rally support
The race is on to become the next head of the World Trade Organization, a tough competition for an even tougher job. To get a leg up, Nigerian candidate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has turned to Mercury Public Affairs to build support with member countries. We’ve got the scoop — and Mercury’s history with helping Nigerian candidates win their races — right here.
Also, make sure to listen to the latest episode of Politico’s EU Confidential podcast, wherein British Member of Parliament Peter Mandelson throws his hat in the ring.
Lobbyists help grease proposed gas deal between Louisiana and Turkey
Natural gas producers in the US South need new export markets.
Turkey needs energy independence from Russia.
Enter the US-Turkey Business Council (TAIK), represented by Mercury Public Affairs and former Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter.
Kuwaiti royal, Thai tycoon underwrote 1MDB fugitive’s $3.4 million influence campaign
Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho has left a trail of breadcrumbs about who’s been footing the massive legal bills he’s incurred fighting charges he embezzled $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund. New lobbying documents paint the clearest picture yet as a Kuwaiti royal and a Thai tycoon are revealed to have funded a $3.4 million public relations campaign to clear his name. Read our exclusive story here.
TODAY’S FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
China: Kobre & Kim stopped working for China’s Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company as of April 30, according to the New York-based law firm’s lobbying filing for the six months through April. The firm had six lawyers and two analysts working on public and government relations for the state-backed chipmaker, in addition to two consultants from Blueprint Communications. Kobre & Kim was hired in January 2019, after the US Commerce Department cut off Fujian Jinhua from US suppliers in October 2018 amid allegations the firm stole intellectual property from US company Micron Technology. The firm has reported a total of $540,000 in payments from the company. “Public relations activities on behalf of the foreign principal have included outreach to media and outreach to the foreign principal’s suppliers in the United States,” Kobre & Kim wrote in its latest filing. “These government relations activities have included providing counsel and guidance on lobbying strategy to government relations service providers.”
Kuwait: Gulf State Analytics is the latest firm to officially terminate its relationship with KGL Investment as the Kuwaiti investment company unravels its massive influence operation to pressure Kuwait into dropping embezzlement charges against former executive Marsha Lazareva. Washington-based Gulf State Analytics was hired as a subcontractor to New York public relations firm Marathon Strategies in May 2019. Marathon paid the firm $7,500 last year to “produce articles that look at [Lazareva’s case], analyzing the situation from the perspective of analysts who focus on Arabian Gulf affairs.” Gulf State Analytics CEO Giorgio Cafiero and senior advisor Theodore Karasik had been registered on the account. Marathon itself stopped working for KGL effective Feb. 11, as we first reported in our June 3 Daily Digest.
Ecuador: Balsera Communications has registered three people on its coronavirus crisis communications account with the Ecuadorean government: Firm founder Alfredo Balsera; firm president David Duckenfield; and director of special projects Julio Ligorria. If you missed yesterday’s story about this, read it here.
TODAY’S DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
Finland: The US subsidiary of the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel has hired a pair of well-connected Texans to lobby on renewable fuels policy. Neste US, the US subsidiary of Finland-based Neste, retained Live Oak Strategies effective June 11. Live Oak founder Ryan Thompson, a former aide to ex-House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), is the only lobbyist working on the account. The hire comes days after Jack Peterson, the longtime lobbyist for Texas’ Harris County, disclosed that he was lobbying on the same issues for Neste US, also effective June 11. Neste US is located in Houston, which is in Harris County.
Mexico: Constellation Brands, the US distributor of Corona beer, has hired North South Government Strategies to lobby on “issues related to imports of Mexican beer brands” effective May 15. John McMickle, a former aide to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), is the only registered lobbyist on the account. Invariant and Harbinger Strategies also lobby for Constellation Brands.
Mexico: Covington & Burling has registered to lobby for aerospace and defense electronics company Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions on the “alignment of US and Mexican policies on maintaining supply chain continuity,” effective April 3. Alan Larson, a former under secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, is registered to lobby on the account alongside Zachary Mears, a former aide to ex-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
In other news
In a court filing unsealed today, US prosecutors accused Jun Wei Yeo (aka Dickson Yeo) of acting as “an agent of a foreign government and foreign government and foreign official, without prior notification to the Attorney General” between 2015 and November 2019 (h/t Seamus Hughes).