- Lobbyist claims he got Tunisian candidate out of jail; trade enforcement pressure group hires lobbyist; UK intelligence panel seeks FARA-like law to counter Russia; Guyana rips Pompeo over sanctions threats; Spanish olive association ends lobbying
The saga of Tunisia’s presidential lobbying controversy continues apace.
Media mogul Nabil Karoui created a political firestorm last year when he hired a former Israeli intelligence officer for $1 million to try to score a meeting with President Donald Trump while campaigning for office. At the time Karoui faced accusations that he was inviting illegal foreign influence into the election, which he ended up losing.
Now his former lobbyist, Ari Ben-Menashe, claims that the lobbying focus changed after Karoui was arrested on tax fraud charges shortly after hiring him. In documents filed with the US Department of Justice, Ben-Menashe says he got the US government to press Tunisia to free Karoui with days to spare before the election. Read our scoop here.
A new alliance of 11 trade associations and business groups has hired a lobbyist to help “hold US trade partners accountable.”
The Alliance for Trade Enforcement (AFTE) retained Cypress Advocacy to lobby on “enforcement of existing trade agreements.” Former House Financial Services Committee senior counsel Brant Imperatore is registered to lobby on the account.
The alliance, announced in May, is an expansion of the Alliance for Fair Trade with India, which was created in 2013. Read the story here.
Top UK intelligence panel calls for FARA-like law
A new report from the British panel that oversees the country’s intelligence community asserts that the UK has ignored Russian interference in the country’s affairs for too long and recommends the creation of a foreign influence law similar to the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
“A number of Members of the House of Lords have business interests linked to Russia, or work directly for major Russian companies linked to the Russian state,” the report from the UK parliament’s intelligence and security committee says. “These relationships should be carefully scrutinized, given the potential for the Russian state to exploit them.”
“The UK has no equivalent legislation to FARA – which would clearly be valuable in countering Russian influence in the UK,” the report notes. It goes on to quote 2019 remarks from Andrew Parker, at the time the director-general of domestic intelligence and security agency MI5, pointing out that FARA-like provisions would finally allow the UK to prosecute undeclared foreign agents. “Today it is not an offense in any sense to be a covert agent of the Russian Intelligence Services in the UK … unless you acquire damaging secrets and give them to your masters,” Parker said.
In its response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s government stated that “the Home Office is considering like-minded international partners’ legislation as part of its ongoing work on new legislative proposals to identify the benefits for adopting a similar approach in the UK.” You can read the report here. The British government’s response can be found here.
NEW FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
Guyana: JJ&B, the lobby firm representing Guyana’s ruling APNU + AFC coalition, circulated its clients’ response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s July 15 call for President David Granger to “step aside.” Pompeo also announced visa restrictions on individuals “responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Guyana” as well as their immediate family members. “Secretary Pompeo’s impetuous imposition of sanctions on Guyana is premature, prejudicial, and an obvious interference in the internal affairs of Guyana,” the statement reads. “We call on Secretary Pompeo to withdraw the sanctions he has announced, and let the law run its course in Guyana.” Read the latest on the lobbying fight here.
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
Capitol Hill Consulting Group stopped representing Spanish olive trade group Interaceituna on March 31. The firm began lobbying Congress and the Office of the US Trade Representative on “trade between the US and Spain in table olives and tariffs on olives” in August 2019. It has reported $100,000 in fees since then.
Covington and Burling stopped lobbying for Dubai businessman Nakibullah Basiri on June 30. Basiri, a partner and general manager of commercial equipment supply companies, had hired the firm in March for help with a non-immigrant B-1 visa request. The firm reported no activity and less than the $5,000 reporting threshold in fees in the first and second quarters.