Latest filings

Daily Digest for Friday, June 19

  • Saudi PR targets US heartland; Bosnian Serbs get coronavirus discount; Nonprofit advisory firm to finally get paid for work with Mali ex-rebels

Saudi lobby hires ex-aide to Maine’s King in play for US heartland

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, addresses students, staff and faculty during a visit to the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, April 4, 2016 (US Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist James E. Foehl/Released/CC BY 2.0)

The public relations firm leading Saudi Arabia’s outreach to the US heartland has hired a former communications director for Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) in its latest move to help improve the kingdom’s image among US voters.

Iowa public relations shop Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (dba LS2grouphired Crystal Canney as a part-time political consultant on June 15. A former state government official, Canney led communications for King’s successful 2012 Senate run before joining his staff in Washington. She is now CEO of the Knight Canney Group in Portland. Read our story here.

Law firm cuts Bosnian Serbs’ fees by 25 % in first known example of covid discount

Everyone’s reeling from the impact of the coronavirus, including the foreign governments that fund lobbyists’ paychecks. In what appears to be the first publicly reported instance of one of them getting a discount, Texas law firm McGinnis Lochridge has agreed to reduce its rate for representing Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Bosnian Serb entity from $80,000 to $60,000 per month for April, May, June, July, and August.

The reduction is spelled out in an April 20 letter from McGinnis partner Martin Lutz to Minister of European Integration and International Cooperation Zlatan Klokic that was only recently disclosed with the US Justice Department. The letter says the changes are being made “in light of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” on Republika Srpska. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s economy is expected to drop by 1.9 % this year, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Republika Srpska hired McGinnis in April 2019 to represent the entity’s “legal rights and obligations under applicable international law” including the Dayton Peace Accords, the European Convention on Human Rights and other international agreements. Lutz and senior counsel Justin Cawley are the only two registered agents on the account. Lutz did not respond to a request for comment.

New York advocacy firm signs new deal with former Tuareg rebels

Courtesy of Wikimedia

Advocating for the under-represented is important. So is getting paid for the work.

After working for free for Mali’s former Tuareg rebels for the past three years, nonprofit advisory group Independent Diplomat has signed a new contract for 5,000 ($5,600) per month.

“The CMA has no foreign service, yet are expected to engage regularly in this big diplomatic process,” the firm’s managing director Nick Scott told Foreign Lobby Report. “We hope that our support gives the CMA some of that capacity and in some small way contributes to a lasting peace in Mali.” Read our story here.

Today’s filings

???? The Department of Justice has new guidance on who qualifies as an “agent of a foreign principal” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and must therefore register. In assessing whether a person should be viewed as an ‘agent’ for purposes of FARA, the department says it will consider relevant factors including:

  • Whether those requested to act were identified with specificity by the principal;
  • The specificity of the action requested;
  • Whether the request is compensated or coerced;
  • Whether the political activities align with the person’s own interests;
  • Whether the position advocated aligns with the person’s subjective viewpoint; and
  • The nature of the relationship between the person and the foreign principal.


Japan: RSC Services International set up a May 21 call with Jim Margolis, a senior adviser to Barack Obama‘s 2008 and 2012 campaigns as well as Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 bid, at the request of the Japanese Embassy in Washington. The embassy believed Margolis, a founding partner of Democratic consulting firm GMMB, could assist with “private sector Japanese companies seeking US public relation assistance in connection with their US investments,” according to RSC’s lobbying filing for the six months through May. The Delray Beach-based RSC also emailed Mark Gitenstein, a former chief counsel to Joe Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee who served as ambassador to Romania under Obama, regarding an “inquiry about possible assistance related to US-Japan diplomacy.” The Japanese Embassy paid the firm almost $138,000 during the period.

Separately, Fleishman-Hillard received $92,000 from the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan in the six months through April. The firm “identified and conducted outreach to potential authors of opinion-editorial pieces for placement in targeted US media,” according to the filing. “Topics to be addressed by the opinion-editorial pieces include the regulatory sandbox, Japan’s Society 5.0 initiative, and blockchain.”

Nigeria: Mercury Public Affairs helped distribute a May 20 letter to President Donald Trump from Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) urging him to appoint a special envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region and enact sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against the perpetrators of violence against Christians across Nigeria. Mercury promoted the letter on behalf of its client Nnamdi Kanu, a British Nigerian political activist lobbying for an independence referendum for the eastern region of Biafra.

United Arab Emirates: David Rothkopf‘s TRG Advisory Services has relocated from Alexandria to New York City. Rothkopf is a registered agent for the UAE Embassy in Washington.


Norway: Atlantic Sapphire USA, the US subsidiary of Norwegian salmon farming company Atlantic Sapphire, hired Ballard Partners to lobby on “economic development opportunities for domestic aquaculture and issues related to trade” effective May 13. Jose Felix Diaz, a former Republican member of the Florida legislature, is lobbying on the account along Ballard Partners founder Brian Ballard, a former Florida lobbyist for US President Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania’s Zippo Manufacturing Company has hired Squire Patton Boggs to lobby on “EU tariff impacts.” Frank Samolis is the only person registered on the lighter maker’s account.

In other news

After just four months as a policy adviser to Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Erielle Davidson is joined the hawkish Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) think thank as a senior policy analyst, reports Legistorm. Covington & Burling has previously lobbied Congress and the White House on US-Israeli security cooperation for JINSA but has not disclosed any payments or political activities on behalf of the group since Q2 2019.