- Lobbyists paint Guyana opposition as anti-US amid pressure to concede defeat; Uzbekistan sells ‘change’ campaign with PR hires; State Department, FCC crack down on Chinese outlets; Justice Department releases new advisory opinions
Guyana’s ruling party is facing pressure from the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States to concede defeat in the Latin American country’s March elections.
To keep the Donald Trump administration from piling on, lobbyists for President David Granger‘s coalition have begun tarring the opposition as anti-US leftists. So far they’ve tied the opposition to China, Venezuela – and even a decade-old deal on a mineral survey by Iran.
Read our story here.
The Central Asian state of Uzbekistan has hired its second public affairs firm in just over six months as it seeks to convince Washington and US investors that it has turned a page on its repressive recent history.
Washington PR firm Xenophon Strategies has been working for the Export Promotion Agency of the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade’s since May, according to a newly disclosed filing with the Department of Justice. The firm is to be paid $585,775 for one year to distribute informational materials to “companies that may want to do business in Uzbekistan.” Read our story here.
State Department designates four Chinese news outlets as ‘foreign missions’
The State Department announced today that it would designate the US operations of four Chinese outlets as “foreign missions,” forcing the outlets to register their employees and US properties with the US government. The designations of China Central Television, China News Service, the People’s Daily, and the Global Times follows months of rising tensions between the US and Chinese governments. Reuters first reported that the new wave of designations was coming almost three weeks ago. Read the State Department announcement here.
Journalists have been in the crosshairs of US-Chinese sparring for months. In February, the Donald Trump administration similarly designated five Chinese outlets — Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation and Hai Tian Development USA — that the State Department called “subject to the control of the Chinese Government.” The Department of Justice has also weighed in, forcing China Daily to report millions of dollars in payments to US newspapers for carrying its content, as Foreign Lobby Report first reported on June 4.
Also Monday, the Federal Elections Commission ruled that a radio station controlled by China’s Phoenix TV had 48 hours to cease its broadcasts into the United States.
Justice Department releases new guidance on foreign agent registration
The Justice Department today released 13 new advisory opinions from 2020 in response to requests on whether entities need to register as foreign agents.
In five cases, the department said yes:
- Jan. 21, 2020: An energy consulting firm that may work for a foreign chamber of commerce and foreign government office said projects could include organizing delegations of the foreign chamber of commerce to Washington. Work for a “semi-autonomous body” that “comes under the direct purview of the Ministry of Business” is subject to registration, FARA said;
- Feb. 20, 2020: A firm that does “media relations and communications support” for an ambassador was required to register. The firm also does PR work for a hurricane relief fund created by the foreign country;
- March 13, 2020: A US environmental conservation nonprofit was told to register after receiving a grant from a foreign government agency to serve “as a general contractor” for the implementation of an environmental program;
- April 21, 2020: A firm working for a foreign embassy was told that attending meetings between embassy officials and lobbyists where legislation and strategy was discussed, and sharing memos with lobbying and PR firms “regarding pending legislation in the House of Representatives” required registration; and
- May 21, 2020: The Director of Business Development at the US office of a foreign corporation — which is housed at the embassy and is a “national agency” of the country — was told to register because its activities include “promoting [foreign country] as a location for international business expansion among US companies throughout the Midwest from the heavy manufacturing and light manufacturing industrial sectors.”
In eight cases, the Justice Department said that firms did not have an obligation to register:
- Jan. 29 (Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption);
- Jan. 31 (Arts exemption);
- Feb. 20 (Agency relationship);
- March 18 (Agency relationship);
- April 22 (Legal exemption);
- May 18 (Agency relationship);
- May 29 (Agency relationship); and
- May 29 (Legal exemption).
TODAY’S FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
Israel: Mercury Public Affairs continues to have its hands full defending NSO Group against allegations that the Israeli spyware company helps autocrats spy on dissidents. Mercury most recently disclosed a public statement defending the company ahead of a new Amnesty International report accusing the Moroccan government of using NSO’s software to spy on journalist Omar Radi. “NSO is deeply troubled by the allegations in the Amnesty International letter,” the statement said. “We are reviewing the information therein and will initiate an investigation if warranted.” Attached to the statement is NSO’s June 10 letter to David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur On the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, defending its human rights and whistleblower policies.
Nigeria: Black Bag LLC of Arlington is the latest firm to belatedly register with the Department of Justice for public relations work conducted on behalf of Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury via Corallo Media Strategies back in 2015. Black Bag’s Edward McFadden contacted sources at the Wall Street Journal and the American Spectator to help Corallo place op-eds touting the administration of then-President Goodluck Jonathan. Corallo registered for its work on behalf of Chagoury earlier this year. Another Corallo subcontractor, NWG Advocacy — a consulting firm run by former Rep. Jerry Weller, Republican of Illinois — registered earlier this month, as we first reported in the June 10 Daily Digest. Jonathan ended up losing to Muhammadu Buhari in March 2015.
Belgium: The Tourist Office for Flanders in New York received $375,000 from the Flanders Tourism Board (Toerisme Vlaanderen) in the six months through May and spent $511,000 promoting the destination.
TODAY’S DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
The nonprofit Hong Kong Woollen & Synthetic Knitting Manufacturers’ Association has hired law firm Goldstein & McClintock to lobby for support for “retail businesses in the United States” and to “educate the public concerning the human and economic impact of non-payment of suppliers and potential supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The registration was effective May 6. Former National Labor Relations Board trial attorney Robert Clayton is the only lobbyist on the account.
The Albanian American Council reported no lobbying activities and no lobbying income above the $5,000 reporting threshold in the first quarter of 2020.