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Daily Digest for Monday, Aug. 10

  • UAE dominates Akin Gump’s $1.4 million haul in first half of the year; Bahrain touts record on terror finance; Syrian Kurds lobby Rubio; Pakistan’s new firm shows no lobbying in first quarter


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Akin Gump reported $1.38 million in fees in the first half of the year:

  • United Arab Emirates: Some $800,000 more than half of the total came from the UAE Embassy in Washington. Read our story here. Partners Shiva Aminian; Paul Butler and Rafi Prober all stopped lobbying for the embassy on June 30.
  • Japan: The Embassy of Japan paid the firm $300,000 to lobby on “Japanese international trade policy” and other matters. Lobbyists notably met with Reps. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) and Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) as well as Jeff Billman, the deputy chief of staff for Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). They also emailed Steve Pinkos, the deputy national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. On March 25 Akin Gump reached out to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Marc Knapper to discuss “travel ban issues” amid the COVID-19 pandemic and called the director of federal relations for Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.), Tiffany Waddell, to discuss stay at home orders. Partner Jeffrey McMillen stopped lobbying for Japan and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council on June 30.
  • Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Trade Development Council paid the firm just under $180,000 for council on congressional matters. No political contacts were reported.
  • Marshall Islands: The government of the Marshall Islands paid Akin Gump $100,000 in the first half of the year for help notably with negotiations over renewal of the US compact agreement with Pacific Island nations. Lobbyists participated in a June 4 call regarding “preliminary discussions” with the US delegation on the matter, including State Department officials Elizabeth Loftus, Julianna Bentes, Rachael Doherty and Meghan Kleinsteiber and Department of Interior Insular Affairs Honolulu field office lead Steve Savage. They also met with Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) and Ami Bera (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs panel on Asia and the Pacific, as well as with Senate Appropriations member John Boozman (R-Ark.). Akin Gump lobbyists also met with staffers for Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii and with staffers for the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior. They spoke by phone with staff for House Appropriations Committee member Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Rep. Cynthia Axne (D-Iowa) and contacted staffers on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to discuss Medicaid funding (we covered the issue here). Finally Akin Gump lobbyists met with Eran Nitzan, the minister of economic affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
  • Finally, Akin Gump terminated its lobbying for Democratic Republic of the Congo opposition figure Moise Katumbi on March 31. Read our Aug, 4 story on Katumbi’s influence campaign here.

Bahrain: BGR Government Affairs helped disseminate an op-ed from Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States, Abdullah bin Rashid Al Khalifa, touting the kingdom’s track record fighting Iranian influence over financial flows in the country, including recent fines against Future Bank and the criminal prosecution of three of the bank’s former officials. The op-ed ran on Aug. 3 in US News & World Report.

Syria: Officials with the US Mission of the Syrian Democratic Council met with US officials both before and after the outbreak of COVID-19, according to the Kurdish-dominated group’s lobbying disclosure for the six months through July. In March, US representative Sinam Sherkany Mohamed and other members of the mission met with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) foreign policy aide Bethany Poulos and Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers Colin Brooks, Molly Lazio, Hannah Thoburn, Cate Sadler and Scott Richardson. They also met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Levant Affairs and special envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn in person in March and online in June. Last month, the mission attended an online meeting with Marci Hodge, the State Department’s senior policy adviser for women and girls in the Middle East and North Africa. Mission members also attended the National Prayer Breakfast Conference in February and a roundtable on International Religious Freedom at the State Department in March. During the period, the mission hired its first lobby firm, Ayal Frank‘s AF International, for $6,000 per month, as Foreign Lobby Report first reported July 27.


Pakistan: Linden Government Solutions did not conduct any lobbying activity on behalf of the government of Pakistan in the second quarter despite taking on the foreign ministry as a client in mid-April, according to the firm’s latest disclosure filing. The contract is pro bono but Linden said it might accept payments from the diaspora community. Lobbying on the account are Linden president Stephen Payne, executive vice president Joseph Fleming, general counsel Brian Ettinger and consultant Stuart Jolly, a former campaign aide to US President Donald Trump.

“Our efforts for Pakistan following our initial engagement were focused on strategy development with the Pakistani Embassy and understanding stakeholder needs through in-depth conversations with relevant Pakistani officials,” Fleming told Foreign Lobby Report in an emailed statement. “Additionally, we’ve engaged with the Pakistani-American diaspora to understand ongoing efforts by everyday Pakistani-Americans to improve the bilateral relationship and to understand areas in which our efforts would complement existing grassroots outreach. Since the end of the last reporting period, we have focused more directly on building on the knowledge we gained via intensive stakeholder engagement to engage with administration officials on a variety of key bilateral issues.”

Editor’s note: Through the end of summer we will only be posting a Daily Digest and sending out a newsletter four times a week, Monday through Thursday.