- US firm to lobby on stalled Black Sea port opposed by Russia; Dem platform calls for ban on foreign lobbying; RJC pushes Congress to support West Bank annexation; Australian mining co. lobbies for tax treaty with Chile
The developers of a massive Black Sea port that the US sees as key to countering Russian influence in the region have hired a US firm to help resolve their dispute with the Georgian government.
The Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC) hired G7 Reputation Advisory effective July 1. The Connecticut firm’s founder Christopher Gidez is the sole registered lobbyist on the account.
The lobbying push comes after the Georgian government announced that it was canceling its 2016 contract with the US-Georgian consortium after a series of delays on the $2.5 billion project. Read the full story here.
Democratic platform calls for ban on foreign lobbying
In a nod to the party’s progressive wing, the Democrats’ 2020 draft platform calls for new restrictions on domestic influence campaigns and an outright ban on lobbying by foreign governments.
“We will ban lobbying by foreign governments and significantly lower the threshold for having to register as a federal lobbyist in order to close loopholes that allow special interests to secretly influence policymaking in Congress and across the federal government,” the draft promises.
The idea has sparked a predictable uproar from the lobbying industry. Paul Miller, the president of the National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics, a trade group representing the industry, said “scapegoating” the lobbying industry is nothing new and would be challenged as a violation of the First Amendment right to petition the government — especially under a Democratic presidency that’s likely to define non-citizens’ rights more broadly.
“We would make as much noise as we can,” Miller told Foreign Lobby Report. “There would be a firestorm that would come with it.”
He added that banning lobbying could backfire by doing away with the United States’ world-leading disclosure laws.
“It does provide transparency,” he said. “You take that away … you are now forcing people to go underground and not register as lobbyists. That’s not healthy for the system.”
The Democratic National Committee’s platform committee is set to take up the proposal on Monday. Read the full document here.
RJC pushes Congress to support West Bank annexation
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) lobbied for Israel’s right to annex the West Bank for the first time during the second quarter of 2020.
In addition to pressing for “support for Israel’s right to apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan River Valley,” the group also lobbied Congress on aid to Israel, sanctions on Iran, restrictions on Palestinian aid and opposition to the Israel boycott movement. The organization spent $40,000 during the period.
The disclosure confirms the group’s June 11 statement applauding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s vow to annex the West Bank in line with the Donald Trump administration’s stalled peace plan for the region. “We will be making a major lobbying effort to encourage Republicans in the Senate and House to express their support for the government of Israel and to support Israel’s extending sovereignty over parts of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley in order to promote the security of its citizens and the stability of the region,” the RJC said at the time.
Noah Silverman is the sole lobbyist on the account.
NEW FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
Japan: The Japanese business federation Ippan Shadan Hojin Nippon Keizai Dantai Rengokai (KEIDANREN) belatedly disclosed that it stopped lobbying for members of the Japanese Diet on Jan. 31, 2019. The federation was hired in June 2018 to help “establish a new framework for dialogue between legislators from Japan and the U.S. and to strengthen bilateral relationships regarding national security and trade/economic relations.” The federation worked pro bono but paid Akin Gump $20,000 for assistance. Lobbying records show the federation scored meetings for Japanese lawmakers with 20 US senators and House members in July 2018:
Malaysia: Public relations consultant Stav Pisk has stopped representing fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low via Wells Haslem Mayhew Strategic Public Affairs. The Australian PR firm registered as a subcontractor to law firm Kobre & Kim on the Low account in April.
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
BHP Billiton Petroleum, the US subsidiary of Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Group, hired Prime Policy Group to lobby on “consideration and support behind the ratification of the US / Chile Tax Treaty.”
The US-Africa Foundation, a Minneapolis non-profit, has hired Baltimore-area consultant Richard Shamlin to lobby on “healthcare and economic development in Africa.” Shamlin separately registered for the Lantern Foundation of North Carolina, which combats international human trafficking. He previously represented Reginald Boulos, a former president of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Haiti turned politician.