- Turkey counsel registers under FARA after 20 years; foreign lobbyists score coveted COVID-19 grants; Freeh battles corruption for Estonia; ex-Sen. D’Amato lobbies for tungsten mine in South Korea
Washington firms continue their scramble to register for past and present representation of foreign clients as the Department of Justice turns up the heat on transparency.
The latest to file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is the longtime legal counsel to the Turkish Embassy in Washington. Law firm Saltzman & Evinch has now disclosed almost $15 million in payments from the embassy over the past 20 years.
Everyone lobbied to get a piece of COVID-19 relief for themselves — including, well, actual lobbyists.
A Foreign Lobby Report analysis of loan data made public today shows that 12 Washington firms with foreign clients scored as much as $39 million in coveted Paycheck Protection Program loans. The firms represent everyone from Chinese companies to Arab monarchies and fugitive financier Jho Low.
Meanwhile Public Citizen reports that lobbyists connected to President Donald Trump have managed to score more than $10.5 billion for 27 of their clients. Read that report here.
Ex-FBI director helps Estonia tackle corruption
The Baltic state of Estonia has hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan law firm to provide legal services in international money laundering investigations, ERR reported over the weekend. The contract is for €3 million ($3.4 million) for two years of legal aid.
The deal comes as Estonia is fighting reputational damage after being connected to several international money laundering cases, including in the United States. At a press conference on Friday, Freeh reportedly said the firm would help establish connections between Estonian and US agencies, assist Estonian investigative bodies and offer legal assistance and support to the Estonian government regarding possible financial penalties. Working on the contract in addition to Freeh are former Treasury Department official and Interpol chief Ronald Noble and Walter Donaldson, the former head of fraud investigations at Bank of America.
Asked about plans to register as a foreign agent for Estonia, a man who answered the phone for the firm’s Washington office said he had no comment. Freeh Sporkin is currently registered as a foreign agent for Kuwaiti investment firm KGL Investment and for Dan Gertler, an Israeli mining magnate fighting sanctions over alleged corruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
NEW FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
A lobbyist for one of the people claiming to be Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto scored a meeting with the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). Rulon & White Governance Strategies, which represents James Bilal Khalid Caan, met with Waters on Jan. 17 to request a hearing in 2020. Washington-based Rulon signed a one-year contract with Caan and his SNR Holdings for $50,000 a month and 10 million bitcoin ($92.5 billion) back in November but reported no payments in the six months through May because of “delayed payments from Board and Founder due to budget.”
Dominican Republic: Dallas-based international advisory firm Insignias Global stopped representing the ministry of the Presidency of the Dominican Republic on June 30. The firm had provided crisis communications and public relations for the ministry since July 1, 2019 and has reported a total of $243,000 in payments under the contract.
Honduras: BGR Government Affairs lobbyists met with Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer Brandon Yoder on behalf of the government of Honduras in the six-month period ending May 31. The firm received $300,000 from the Honduran government during the period.
Venezuela: BGR Government Affairs disclosed sending seven emails to reporters on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido in the six-month period ending May 31. The firm works for Guaido pro-bono.
Azerbaijan: BGR Government Affairs lobbyists met with Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) on Feb. 6 and Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Rosa DeLauro (C-Conn.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) on Feb. 7. BGR lobbyists also met with Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Feb. 28. The firm reported $240,000 in fees and $236,000 in expenses for the Azerbaijan work.
Bangladesh: Foreign agents working for BGR Government Affairs emailed hundreds of journalists, think tank officials and congressional staffers about US-Bangladesh relations in the six months through May. The firm was paid $150,000 for its work for the Bangladeshi government.
China: BGR Government Affairs reported no activity or fees for the China-United States Exchange Foundation in the six-month period ending May 31.
Hong Kong: BGR Government Affairs met with Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) and two congressional staffers in the six-month period ending May 31. The firm was paid $180,000 for its work for the Hong Kong Development Council.
India: Lobbyists from BGR Government Affairs spoke by phone with Reps. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) on May 6. The firm also disclosed 21 meetings with 17 congressional staffers in the six-month period ending May 31. It was paid $350,000 for the India work.
Kazakhstan: BGR Government Affairs received $48,000 from the Kazakh Embassy in Washington on May 31, just one month after being hired. The firm reported no political activity for the embassy in the six months through May.
South Korea: BGR Government Affairs disclosed $162,000 in fees from the South Korean Embassy in Washington during the six months through May but did not report any political activity.
Thailand: BGR Government Affairs stopped lobbying for exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Dec. 31. The firm reported no fees from Shinawatra in the six-month period ending May 31.
Bulgaria: BGR Government Affairs stopped lobbying for Bulgarian member of parliament and media mogul Delyan Peevski on Dec. 31. The firm was hired by law firm Aviora Consult in August 2017 on behalf of Peevski. BGR reported $90,000 in fees in the six months through May.
Poland: BGR Government Affairs lobbyists spoke with US ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher 30 times in the six-month period ending May 31 — including 11 times in May alone. The firm also disclosed three meetings with Vice President Mike Pence‘s national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, during the period. BGR separately works for Poland’s defense ministry and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa, a state-owned defense holding company. BGR disclosed $420,000 from the ministry and no fees from the holding company during the period.
Bahrain: BGR Government Affairs lobbyists working on behalf of the government of Bahrain met with Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in December; with Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Michael Conaway (R-Texas) and Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) in February; and with Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Brian Mast (R-Fla.) in March. The firm reported $462,000 in fees from Bahrain during the six months through May.
Kurdistan Regional Government: Lobbyists for BGR Government Affairs met with Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) as well as four congressional staffers on behalf of the KRG during the six months through May. The firm received $120,000 from the KRG during the period.
Libya: Houston-based Linden Government Solutions officially terminated its contract with Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar‘s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) on June 19, according to the firm’s most recent filing. The firm signed a $2 million contract in May 2019 but has disclosed a total of $775,000 in payments. Linden’s most recent activity consisted of a Jan. 24 phone call to State Department Elizabeth Litchfield. Foreign Lobby Report broke the news of the end of the LNA’s lobbying here.
Qatar: New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton met with then-deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates on Feb. 4 to discuss the Arab Gulf blockade against the country. The firm received $215,000 from the state of Qatar during the six months through May.
Saudi Arabia: New York public relations firm KARV Communications has renewed its contract with the Saudi Public Investment Fund for “investor and public relations advice and counsel.” The contract, effective June 29, is for $132,000 per month starting in July until March 2021, up from $120,000 previously.
Saudi Arabia: Booz Allen Hamilton has retroactively registered as a foreign agent of Saudi Arabia for work conducted on behalf of the Saudi Embassy in late 2017. The firm was paid $3 million for “consulting support concerning a planned KSA/US relationship event” conducted from October to December 2017.
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
Park Strategies has registered to lobby for Toronto-based tungsten mining company Almonty Industries. The firm plans to lobby on the “opening of the Almonty Korea Tungsten mine” in Sangdong, South Korea. Registered on the account are: Former Senator Al D’Amato, a Republican who represented New York; Christopher D’Amato, a former senior counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Northeast Regional Office; and Sean King, a former senior adviser for Asia at the Commerce Department.
IN OTHER NEWS
The State Department today announced that it approved five arms sales:
- Argentina: 27 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles and related equipment ($100 million)
- France: Three Advanced Hawkeye aircraft and related equipment ($2 billion)
- Lithuania: Six Black Hawk helicopters and related equipment ($380 million)
- Indonesia: Eight Osprey aircraft and related equipment ($2 billion)
- Israel: Fuel and gasoline ($3 billion)