By the numbers, Top contracts, Top Stories

New foreign influence contracts top $8 million in June

Foreign governments disclosed lobbying and public relations contracts worth more than $8 million last month, according to a Foreign Lobby Report analysis of documents filed with the US Justice Department during the month of June.

Leading the pack are a pair of hefty PR contracts to promote Gulf Arab states’ initiatives.

The United Arab Emirates’ Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation has hired New York communications firm Teneo Strategy for $250,000 per month ($3 million per year) until the end of next year for promotional work, as we first reported on June 15. The contract was effective May 31, which works out to $4.75 million through 2021.

The foundation focuses on art, culture and heritage, health, and early childhood development. Its founder, Princess Salama, is the wife of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, widely considered to be the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile the Neom Corporation of Saudi Arabia has hired another New York firm to promote Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s $500 billion vision of a modern mega-city in the desert. Neom will pay Ruder Finn $1.7 million over a year to tout Neom’s corporate social responsibility efforts amid criticism that native tribes are being forcefully displaced to make room for the project. Read our story here.

Turkey closes out the top three. The Turkish Embassy’s longtime law firm, Saltzman & Evinch, recently disclosed a year-long, $1.1 million contract that it signed at the end of last year after the Department of Justice determined that its work fell under the scope of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Saltzman & Evinch was also required to publicly disclose 20 years’ worth of work for the embassy, worth more than $15 million, as we detail here.

In other notable news:

  • Uzbekistan’s Export Promotion Agency hired Xenophon Strategies to help end the international boycott campaign of its cotton exports (see our story here);
  • Ecuador’s Center for Strategic Intelligence retained Balsera Communications to defend the country’s response to COVID-19 (read more here);
  • The UAE hired Fleishman-Hillard to promote its mission to Mars (see here);
  • AF International is lobbying for the Iran Transition Council, which seeks regime change in Tehran (more on that here); and
  • Dominican Republic presidential candidate Gonzalo Castillo hired former Puerto Rico governor Luis Fortuno, now at Steptoe & Johnson, to help build relations with “key audiences” in the United States. The pro bono contract, first revealed by Foreign Lobby Report, caused a political firestorm and was terminated almost immediately.

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New foreign lobbying contracts top $7 million in May

In addition to these lobbying and public relations contracts, several law firms have also registered their legal work on behalf of the United Kingdom. Many bill by the hour, so the value of their contracts has yet to be determined.

Three firms Steptoe & Johnson, Fragomen and Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis disclosed their work as subcontractors for London-based Linklaters working for the British Department of International Trade on the proposed US-UK trade deal. The department signed a $7.5 million contract with Linklaters in March. We have the all the details here.

In addition to the new contracts, 14 renewals were also disclosed in June:

  • Parvis Landon / Embassy of Japan;
  • BGR / Embassy of India;
  • BGR / Embassy of Bahrain;
  • Mercury Public Affairs / Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Zimbabwe;
  • Karv Communications / Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia;
  • Daschle Group / Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office;
  • Independent Diplomat / Coordination of the Movements of the Azawad (Mali);
  • McGinnis Lochridge / Republika Sprska;
  • theGroupDC / Barbados International Business Promotion Corporation;
  • and Myriad Creative‘s tourism promotion contracts with Northern Territory Tourism (Australia), the Toyooka City Hall Tourism Division and the Shizuoka Prefectural Tourism Association (Japan), the Macao Government Tourism Office and the British Virgin Islands Tourism Board.