Welcome to our special back-from-vacation issue. Here you’ll find all the latest foreign lobbying registrations from the past week, in addition to a link to our monthly round-up of all the new FARA contracts disclosed last month.
- FARA contracts top $2.4 million in August
- Somalis hire law firm after Ethiopia shoots down aid plane
- Ukraine NGO hires Tricuro for Washington delegation
- Ex-Rep. Royce joins Tencent lobby stable
- Obama fundraiser registers as French foreign agent
New foreign influence contracts top $2.4 million in August
Foreign actors disclosed new lobbying and public relations contracts worth at least $2.4 million last month, according to a Foreign Lobby Report analysis of documents filed with the US Department of Justice in August.
A year-long, $1.2 million contract between newly formed Praia Consultants and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman to represent the Embassy of Qatar accounted for half that total. Former Serbian Ambassador to the US Vladimir Petrovic and former Barack Obama Senate campaign aide Dan Shomon launched the firm on July 30 with the express goal of leveraging ties to former Vice-President Joe Biden‘s presidential campaign, as we first reported on Aug. 23.
In second place, Washington communications firm Seven Letter signed a seven month contract for $40,000 per month with the Embassy of Japan to promote tourism and the country’s public health initiatives amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The contract also includes four two-week digital advertising campaigns for a total of $200,000, for which Seven Letter will receive the standard industry commission.
New foreign lobbying filings (FARA)
Somalia: Somali aviation operator Fly Africa has hired law firm Schulman Bhattacharya of Bethesda for legal representation regarding the case of an East African Express Airways cargo flight carrying COVID-19 aid that was allegedly shot down by Ethiopian troops on May 4 as it approached Somalia’s Berdale airport. All six people aboard were killed. The law firm will provide legal services and respond to media queries on behalf of Fly Africa, which had been leasing the plane. Managing member Jeremy Wyeth Schulman is the sole registered agent on the account. The contract dates back to June 25. The firm is to be paid a contingency success fee worth a third of any payouts.
France: Daniel Dozier, President Barack Obama‘s 2008 director of international fundraising, has registered as a foreign agent for his work as director of Midwest business development for Business France, the governmental agency supporting the international development of the French economy. Dozier asked the FARA unit whether he should register after taking the job back in March and was informed he should indeed do so in an advisory opinion dated May 21.
Luxembourg / Russia: Teneo Strategy of New York has signed a $150,000 contract with Letterone Investment Holdings. The Luxembourg-based investment vehicle was set up by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, the founder of Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest non-state bank. Teneo will provide “strategic counsel and stakeholder engagement advice” but is not expected to lobby the US government. Registered on the account are: John Coster; Emily Cummings; Paul Gallagher; Kathleen Lacey; and Nicole Sinclair. The contract was effective Aug. 26.
Ukraine: Washington strategic communications firm Tricuro has signed a $58,000 deal with the NGO Ukrainian Guild of Activists to help organize a visit to Washington by various officials during the week of Sept. 21. Representatives from the National Bank of Ukraine, the Export-Import Bank of Ukraine and the Office of the Prosecutor General are expected to participate. According to the registration, the guild’s “primary focus” is the fight against corruption. “The purpose of the visit is to build relations between these Ukraine institutions and their counterparts in Washington, DC, as well as undertake a wider public affairs program.” Tricuro will help “identify senior targets within the U.S. Administration, Capitol Hill, think tanks, academia, finance, the media and wider Washington, DC networks with whom the delegation should engage” and “arrange high-level meetings for the delegation, providing talking points and detailed bios in advance.” Tricuro principal David Sowells is the only registered agent on the account. Tricuro in turn has hired two subcontractors to help on the account: Southfive Strategies CEO Jason Epstein and DC International Advisory CEO Stephen Yates.
Qatar: Portland PR has registered as a subcontractor to its Qatar branch office, Portland PR Limited (QFC Branch), for the provision of public relations services on behalf of First Lady Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser‘s Education Above All Foundation. The firm will provide “message development, partner liaison, media outreach, support materials” for an hourly rate. The agreement was effective Aug. 23. Vice President Meghan Powers and Manager Jamie Enright are registered on the account. Portland PR previously represented the foundation between Feb. 2018 and Feb. 2019 and is currently registered as an agent of the country’s government communications office.
New domestic lobbying filings (LDA)
Tencent USA, the US subsidiary of the Chinese company that owns the ubiquitous WeChat app, has added Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to its growing stable of US lobby shops. The firm will lobby on “implementation” of President Trump’s Aug. 6 executive order that gives US companies 45 days to unwind their commercial relations with the company. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is registered to lobby on the account, along with:
- Marc Lampkin, former adviser to ex-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio);
- Greta Joynes, former aide to Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.);
- Alfred Mottur, Democratic fundraiser and ex-aide to the late Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.);
- Brian McKeon, former aide to ex-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.); and
- Travis Norton, former counsel to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
Brownstein joins Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison and attorney Toby Myerson in lobbying for the company. Tencent has also registered an in-house lobbying team, as Foreign Lobby Report first reported Aug. 25.
Taiwanese defense equipment company Confucian Co. has hired the Washington Advocacy Group for “consulting to assist with acquiring aircraft and related equipment.” Former Arkansas state Senate President Michael Lamoureux, a founding principal of the firm, is the sole registered lobbyist on the account.
The Washington non-profit Freedom Initiative, which advocates for the release of political prisoners in the Middle East, has hired its first lobbying firm. The American Continental Group will lobby on “human rights.” Registered to lobby on the account are:
- Eriade Wiliams, former deputy chief of staff to ex-Rep. Robert Brady (D-Penn.);
- Shawn Smeallie, former special assistant for legislative affairs to President George H. W. Bush;
- Julie Philp, former legislative director for ex-Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.);
- Owen Reilly; and
- Claire Shanklin.
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has registered under the LDA , effective July 20, as an agent of the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), a private US-owned company that contracts with the Republic of Liberia to administer the Liberian Registry, an open registry for merchant ships. The firm will lobby on “issues related to the Liberian Registry.” Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is the sole registered lobbyist on the account. Brownstein previously registered its LISCR work under FARA in February.
The Zurich American Insurance Company, the US subsidiary of the Swiss insurance giant, has hired Rich Feuer Anderson to lobby on “legislation and regulation affecting provision of property/casualty insurance.” Lobbying on the account are: Amanda Slater, former senior policy adviser to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.); John Anderson, former senior policy adviser to Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho); Tom Koonce, former legislative director for ex-Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.); and former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Jared Sawyer.
California drugmaker 1776 Pharmaceuticals has hired Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld to lobby on “reshoring production of essential medicines.” Registered on the account are Daniel Graver, former legislative assistant to ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.); Geoff Verhoff; Charlie Johnson; and Heide Bajnrauh. The lobbying costs are borne by Dutch firm Centrient Pharmaceuticals Netherlands.
Aviation-monitoring solutions company Aireon of McLean, Virginia has hired former House Appropriations staffer Kate Hallahan and her Washington firm Team Hallahan to lobby on “funding for space-based automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B).” Aireon is 51 % owned by Ottawa-based NAV Canada. The Doerrer Group and Michael Korens are also registered to lobby for the company.
Former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has belatedly registered his Abraham Group as a lobbyist for Spanish electric utility Iberdrola, effective July 1. Blank Rome Government Affairs previously registered as a subcontractor to the Abraham Group on the account. Abraham will “monitor issues/activities and provide outreach and advocacy to legislative and executive branches on North American energy policies and related trade and foreign policy issues.”