- Foreign nations forced to lobby for COVID-19 drug as US hoards supply; Venezuela-linked Citgo drops all its lobbying firms; NIAC applauds Dem platform on Iran; Khashoggi fiancee switches lobbying firms
The US decision to hoard the supply of a COVID-19 drug has left foreign countries with little recourse but to lobby the Donald Trump administration for relief.
Newly disclosed emails under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) show the Dominican Republic used its connections to former Trump Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard to try to get access the therapeutic drug remdesivir. Ballard reached out to a top FDA official on Friday for help.
Read the story here.
Venezuela-linked Citgo drops all three of its lobbying firms
US refiner Citgo dropped all three of its lobbying firms in the second quarter as it continues to distance itself from its parent company, Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. Citgo cut ties with PDVSA in early 2019 after the Donald Trump administration imposed sanctions to starve the Nicolas Maduro government of oil revenues.
Cornerstone Government Solutions terminated its lobbying on May 15, while Vantage Knight and its subcontractor Avenue Strategies stopped lobbying on May 20. The three firms reported a combined $800,000 in lobbying income in the first half of the year as they lobbied Congress, the White House and the departments of State, Energy and Treasury on US energy policies and sanctions-related issues.
Citgo’s in-house lobbying continues, however. Citgo registered to lobby effective Jan. 9 and has disclosed spending $580,000 since then. All its lobbying has been on fuel standards rather than international affairs. Thomas Coleman is the sole remaining lobbyist for the company. “We prefer not to make any comment regarding our lobbying activities,” a Citgo spokeswoman in response to the terminations.
Iranian-American group applauds Democrats platform on Iran
The advocacy arm of the liberal Iranian-American group National Iranian American Council (NIAC) today applauded the Democratic Party’s draft platform, which calls for a return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and an end to restrictions on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. The 80-page document was first reported by the Washington Post.
“The DNC should be applauded for its forward-leaning platform commitments on issues of importance to the Iranian-American community,” NIAC Action Policy Director Ryan Costello said in a statement. “The draft platform warns against the Trump administration’s dangerous military escalation against Iran and supports a mutual return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal and further diplomatic negotiations.”
Read the full statement here.
NEW FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
China: Hai Tian Development of Flushing, New York was paid $337,000 by the People’s Daily Overseas Edition to print and distribute the Chinese government’s official newspaper during the first half of the year. Hai Tian in turn spent $288,000 on printing and other costs.
Philippines: BCW has added Hong Kong-based senior account executive Ashley Bailey to its account with the government of the Republic of the Philippines. She will provide “counsel and assistance” to the country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and “the government’s economic team in the area of strategic communications to promote BSP’s economic initiative and economic messages internationally.”
South Korea: K&L Gates has just registered its first foreign agents on the contract it signed with the Korea International Trade Association back in January 2020. They are: partners Stacy Ettinger and Tyler Hong Shik Won; counsel Jeffrey Orenstein; associate lawyer Eli Schooley; and government affairs adviser Laurine Purpuro.
Switzerland: Switzerland Tourism received $2 million from its headquarters in Zurich and another $1 million from its partners in the first half of the year. It spent almost $2.3 million promoting the country during the period.
Qatar: The Embassy of Qatar in Washington paid Waltham PLLC $266,000 in the first half of the year. The Washington law firm provided “legal services” including “advice concerning Embassy operations, diplomatic and other Embassy communications, Embassy contracts with providers of goods and services, charitable and cultural initiatives of the Embassy, litigation matters, bilateral agreements between Qatar and the United States, Embassy assistance to Qatari nationals, and Embassy real estate.” The firm disclosed three contacts with State Department Qatar desk officer Kevin Nelson regarding “referral to US authorities of legal matter.”
Turkey: The Embassy of Turkey in Washington paid Amsterdam & Partners $300,000 in the six months through April. The firm did not disclose any political activities during the period.
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
Kilpatrick Townsend Stockton stopped lobbying for Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, on April 15. The sole registered agent on the account, Robert Harmala, told Foreign Lobby Report that he filed the termination report ahead of his move to Jenner & Bock but intends to re-register as a lobbyist for Cengiz at his new firm. Cengiz retained Kilpatrick Townsend Stockton in March 2019 via Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the advocacy group Khashoggi was in the process of setting up when he was killed. The firm lobbied Congress on “continuance of Jamal Khashoggi’s work in human/civil rights advancing democracy in the Middle East.” Kilpatrick Townsend Stockton received a total of $120,000 from Cengiz/DAWN, all of it in 2019.
North Carolina sock company Renfro Corporation, which is 25% owned by Hong Kong-based Living Stone Equity Co. Limited, has hired McGuireWoods Consulting to lobby on “education on clothing composition,” effective June 1. Ryan Bernstein, a former aide to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) is the only lobbyist registered to work on the account.