- Guyana party courted Biden campaign; Trump-connected lobbyists pocket $2 million from Venezuela; UAE pays anti-Qatar group another $3.5 million; Sonoran drops London developer
A lobbyist for a political party in Guyana contacted Joe Biden‘s Latin America adviser several times this spring in what appears to be the first documented instance of foreign lobbying of the former vice-president’s campaign.
Gustavo Arnavat, a co-chairman at Mercury Public Affairs and registered lobbyist for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), spoke by phone twice with Daniel Erikson following disputed elections on March 2. PPP candidate Irfaan Ali was sworn in Sunday following intensifying US and international pressure on incumbent President David Granger to step down.
The disclosures are particularly noteworthy as Biden has vowed to ban foreign lobbying if elected president. And his campaign has restricted contacts with foreign government officials since soon after he announced he was running last year.
Read the story here.
A lobbying firm close to President Donald Trump pocketed $2 million this spring for less than a month’s worth of work on behalf of Nicolas Maduro‘s government in Venezuela, the firm confirmed in its latest filing with the US Justice Department.
Robert Stryk‘s Sonoran Policy Group was supposed to assist with the law firm’s legal efforts to ease US sanctions against the socialist country. Instead, the contract abruptly ended after Foley dropped Venezuela as a client on Feb. 7 under pressure from Florida Republicans.
Sonoran has also disclosed another $2.3 million from three other clients in the first half of the year. Sonoran’s lobbying amounted to a grand total of one telephone call.
Read the story here.
NEW FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
St. Lucia: Public relations firm Alcalde & Fay stopped providing pro bono services to the government of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia on June 30. The original contract, from June 2018, was for $8,500 per month.
Marshall Islands: Akin Gump has belatedly filed a year-long contract renewal with the government of the Marshall Islands. The July 2019 contract was for $20,000 per month. Akin Gump however has since filed a contract renewal upping its rates to $40,000 per month starting in June. The pay hike reflects the “increased work” connected to ongoing negotiations between the Pacific nation and the US government over the renewal of the compact of free association that expires in 2023.
Poland: CMGRP Entertainment of Los Angeles, dba Rogers & Cowan, received $50,000 in the first half of the year from the Polish National Foundation (Polska Fundacja Narodowa). The firm “engaged in planning services for an upcoming film premiere, provided consulting services on film festival distribution strategy, spoke with individuals in the entertainment industry to explore future film project, and pitched the Foundation for media opportunities.”
Russia: Sidley Austin partners James Mendenhall and Michael Borden have registered as foreign agents for TENEX, the export arm of Russian nuclear power agency Rosatom. The firm is being paid an estimated $20,000 a month to help negotiate an extension to an expiring uranium export agreement. Read our July 28 explanatory piece about the negotiations here.
Israel: The Sonoran Policy Group stopped lobbying for Israeli-Bulgarian property developer Zari David Eliezer Kovo (aka Bebo Kobo) and refunded his $50,000 lobbying fee on April 7. The co-founder of property company Camden Market Holdings & Developments in London hired the firm for six months in January. Sonoran said it was hired to “facilitate meetings and interactions with US administration officials” but disclosed no political activities on Kobo’s behalf during the first half of the year. Sonoran founder Robert Stryk and CEO Christian Bourge had been registered as foreign agents on the account.
United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi-owned Outlook Energy Investments paid California’s Camstoll Group $3.5 million in the first half of the year for advice and outreach on “issues pertaining to illicit financial activity and developing and implementing strategies to combat illicit financial activity.” The firm, staffed by former Treasury Department officials, plays a key role in the UAE’s years-long campaign to paint rival Qatar as a haven for terror funding.
Editor’s note: Loyal readers may have noticed Friday’s announcement that Foreign Lobby Report would be taking this week off. Sadly, Hurricane Isaias had other plans.