- Chinese chip company gets PR help to fight theft allegations; Tik-tok parent spends $500,000 in second quarter; Qatar-funded think tank reinvents itself as cultural center; Canadian Vanadium maker hires lobbyist amid national security review of imports
Ex-GOP aides disclose work for Chinese state company accused of stealing US tech
A public relations firm run by former Republican aides has just disclosed months-old work for a Chinese chip-maker accused of stealing US technology.
Alexandria-based Blueprint Communications notified the Department of Justice on July 15 that it had signed a contract for “communications and media relations consulting” on behalf of the Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company back in February 2020. The contract is for $17,500 per month for an initial six-month period.
Blueprint Communications is working as a subcontractor for Steptoe & Johnson, which itself registered to lobby for Fujian Jinhua back in March 2019.
Read the story here.
Tik-tok parent spends $500,000 in Q2
ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the wildly popular TikTok video app, spent $500,000 on in-house lobbying arm in the second quarter — up from $300,000 in the first three months of the year. The embattled company lobbied Congress and the Executive Office of the President amid US threats to ban the app over allegations that the Chinese app poses a national security threat.
Joining public policy and corporate affairs chief Eric Ebenstein on the account were four former Republican congressional aides:
- Stephen Martinko (former deputy staff director on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee);
- Michael Beckerman (former president of the Internet Association and deputy staff director on the Energy and Commerce Committee);
- Freddy Barnes (former floor assistant to then-Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.); and
- Derrick Dockery (a former aide to then-House Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio).
In addition, ByteDance paid K&L Gates $40,000 to lobby Congress, the same amount as in the first quarter. The firm added former Rep. Jeffrey Denham, R-Calif., to the account, in addition to James Sartucci (a former aide to Sen. Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi); Dennis Potter (a former staff assistant to Sen. Phil Gramm, Republican of Texas); Scott Aliferis; and Andrew Francisco. They join Stacy Ettinger; Barton Gordon; Carolyn Lowry; and Stephen Martinko.
Qatar-funded think tank reinvents itself as cultural center
A Qatar-funded think tank caught in the controversy over Arab Gulf influence in Washington is reinventing itself as a cultural center.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice demanded that the Qatar-America Institute register as a foreign agent after receiving some $6 million from the Qatari government, as we first reported on June 3. Since then the institution, which has a new board headed by museum professional Peggy Loar, has vowed to end political and other activities that would require registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
“We are happy to announce that the Qatar-America Institute (QAI) is officially embarking on a new path forward as the Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC),” the institute said in a statement today. “Since QAI’s inception three years ago, we have experimented with many different ventures and opportunities to find what you value the most. From photography competitions to food festivals and interfaith dinners to art exhibitions, we learned to listen as we grew as an organization. Over the past eight months, we have been actively reflecting on these experiences and planning our next chapter.”
Read the statement here.
NEW FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
United Arab Emirates: The Glover Park Group has renewed its contract to provide “communications and strategic counsel” to the UAE Mission to the United Nations for another three months, from July 1 through Sept. 30. The rate is for $70,000 per month, down from $100,000 under the contract first agreed to last fall. Three people are registered as foreign agents on the account: Senior Vice President Joshua Gross and consultants Victoria Esser and Brett O’Brien.
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
Toronto-based vanadium producer and supplier Largo Resources has hired Harbinger Strategies to lobby on vanadium import issues. Five former Republican congressional aides — Kyle Nevins, John O’Neill, Manny Rossman, Jonathan Slemrod and Steve Stombres — are registered to lobby on the account effective June 15. The hire comes as the US Commerce Department is reviewing whether competition from foreign exporters of the rare metal poses a national security threat to domestic production.
Nammo Perry, a Florida subsidiary of Norwegian/Finnish defense company Nammo, has hired Capitol Integration to lobby on “ammunition sales and transfers.” Nammo, the Nordic Ammunition Company, is 50% owned by the Norwegian government. The registration was effective May 1. Gene Moran, the US Navy’s former appropriations director, is the sole registered lobbyist on the account. Republic Consulting and American Defense International are separately registered to lobby for Nammo Inc., the Washington-based holding company for Nammo’s US subsidiaries.
US international student exchange organization Assist Scholars has hired Beacon Strategies to lobby on education issues. Registered on the account are Thomas Hodgkins and former Department of Energy official Kristen Gullott.
Second quarter filings:
Covington & Burling stopped lobbying for Israel-based animal health product seller Phibro Animal Health Corporation and Dubai-based commercial equipment general manager Nakibullah Basiri on June 30.
Ontario International Airport paid Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck $20,000 in the second quarter to lobby Congress on “issues related to international flights, airport facilities, and customs matters.” The airport hired the firm in May. Lobbying on the account are former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Republican of California, and former House Banking and Financial Services Committee staffer David Cohen.
Michael Taylor, the ex-Green Beret who is fighting extradition to Japan after allegedly helping former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee the country, paid K&L Gates $110,000 in the second quarter (up from $20,000 in the first quarter). The firm reported lobbying the White House, State Department and Congress on “issues related to US government discussions with Japan.” Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Valentine, Stavroula Lambrakopoulos and Dennis Potter have started lobbying on the account. They join Amy Carnevale; Jeffrey Denham; Dennis Stephens; and James Sartucci.
The American University of Afghanistan paid HillStaffer $25,000 in the second quarter to lobby Congress, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on “provisions related to education in Afghanistan” in the foreign aid spending bill.