- Congolese millionaire drops lobbying against DRC president; Libyan strongman gets a lawyer to fight human rights charges; ex-Rep. Livingston registers for Azerbaijan; Saudi lobby scores invite to Colorado Business Roundtable women’s event for Princess Reema
Congolese millionaire drops lobbying for opposition after returning from exile
Congolese millionaire Moise Katumbi has spent the past four years bankrolling US lobbying efforts on behalf of the opposition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Those efforts suffered a major blow in January 2019 when the State Department endorsed President Felix Tshisekedi‘s election despite widespread concerns about electoral fraud. Then in May of that year, the government allowed Katumbi to return home from exile.
Now new lobbying filings indicate that Katumbi has terminated his turned the page on his lobbying campaign against Tshisekedi as he looks to his own presidential run in 2023. Read the story here.
Libyan strongman Haftar gets a legal team to fight human rights charges
A Libyan strongman accused of torture and extrajudicial killings now has a legal team to defend him.
Khalifa Haftar is being represented by former federal prosecutor Duncan Levin (from law firm Tucker Levin) and Edward Ungvarsky (from Ungvarsky Law) in two lawsuits filed in federal court in Virginia, where Haftar used to live.
Haftar’s escalating legal troubles come as his self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA) has ended its Washington lobbying amid a string of battlefield defeats, Foreign Lobby Report first reported June 25. The charges against him stem from his ongoing offensive against the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli and from an earlier campaign in Benghazi.
Read Aaron Schaffer’s story here.
Nigeria: Chicago public relations firm Kivvit has belatedly disclosed a $300,000 contract with Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury (via Corallo Media Strategies) to promote the government of then-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014-2015. Corallo registered for its work on behalf of Chagoury earlier this year. Jonathan ended up losing re-election to Muhammadu Buhari in March 2015.
Bahamas: The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism paid CMGRP (d/b/a Weber Shandwick) $1.2 million in the first half of the year to promote the island.
Bermuda: Chicago public relations firm Kivvit has belatedly disclosed contracts with the Bermuda Business Development Agency dating back to 2016. The public-private partnership “encourages direct investment and helps companies start up, re-locate or expand their operations in Bermuda.” The current contract, from earlier this year, is for $20,000 per month.
Colombia: The government of Colombia paid the Fratelli Group of Washington $38,000 for outreach to media and think-tanks in the first half of the year.
Azerbaijan: The Livingston Group has registered founding partner and former congressman Robert Livingston, Republican of Louisiana, on its new account with Azerbaijan. The registration for J. Allen Martin was “filed inadvertently” and has been terminated. Read our deep-dive into the lobbying war over Nagorno-Karabakh here.
- The Okinawa Prefecture DC Office received $36,000 from the prefectural government in Japan and in turn paid Mercury Public Affairs $55,000 in the first half of the year. During the period, the office met with staffers for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to discuss US military base issues on the island. On the House side, the office also met with staffers for Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Steve Womack (R-Ark.). In April and May the office teleconferenced with staffers for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) and Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Col.) and Andy Kim (D-N.J.). They also met with Marine Corps and State Department officials.
- The government of Japan paid the Fratelli Group of Washington $170,000 for outreach to media regarding the Tokyo Olympics and other matters in the first half of the year.
- The Los Angeles branch of the Japan External Trade Organization spent $1.1 million promoting the country in the first half of the year.
Pakistan: Chicago public relations firm Kivvit has belatedly disclosed a five-month, $12,000 contract from October 2017 on behalf of the provincial government of Punjab in Pakistan. The firm was hired to “highlight the successes of the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act of 2016” and “position” Punjab’s Strategic Reforms Unit and its director general Salman Sufi “positively with U.S. audiences.”
Singapore: The government of Singapore paid the Fratelli Group of Washington $108,000 for outreach to media in the first half of the year.
- Veteran Republican operative Joe Pounder‘s Bullpen Strategy Group (dba Definers Corp.) stopped representing Georgia’s pro-western Foundation for Civic Education on Feb. 27. The firm signed a three-month, $13,000-a-month contract with the foundation in late October to support “promotion of bilateral relations between the United States and the Republic of Georgia, encouraging a regional free trade agreement with the U.S., and raising awareness of Russian influence in the Caucasus/Black Sea region.” Read our coverage of lobbying by US interests in Georgia’s oil-and-gas industry and Black Sea port construction here and here.
- The government of Georgia paid StrateVarious of Michigan $60,000 in the first half of the year to promote Georgia’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Netherlands: The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions in New York received $450,000 from its parent in The Netherlands to promote tourism and business travel to the country in the first half of the year.
Wales: Visit Wales paid CMGRP (d/b/a Weber Shandwick) $40,000 in the first half of the year to promote the United Kingdom country.
- Colorado public relations firm Summit Information Services received $63,000 in the first half of the year from Iowa’s Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (LS2 Group) to reach out to business leaders, religious groups and media on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Summit notably helped arrange a June 23 appearance by embassy spokesman Fahad Nazer on The Jimmy Senenberger Show and reached out to the Colorado Business Roundtable, which ended up hosting a July 8 event on women’s rights and women in business with the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
- LS2 Group disclosed that Kendall Benjamin left the firm and its Saudi account on Nov. 12.
- King & Spalding received $873,000 from the Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources and the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in the first half of the year. The firm advised its clients regarding the potential civil nuclear agreement with the United States. Firm partner Daniel Crosby, a registered agent on the account, disclosed a $41,100 donation on May 11 to the Biden Victory Fund; the campaign has vowed to return any donations from lobbyists.
United Arab Emirates: Bullpen Strategy Group received $82,500 from Akin Gump in the first half of the year on behalf of the UAE Embassy in Washington. The firm reached out to multiple media outlets to promote the UAE’s embargo against Qatar and its attacks on Al-Jazeera.