- HSBC hires GOP firms amid Hong Kong backlash
- Top law firm DLA Piper drops Bahrain, Afghanistan
- Qatar lobbied for millions for Al-Udeid air base
- LG subsidiary hires two firms for trade lobbying
Europe’s largest bank has hired two Republican lobbying firms as the escalating US trade war with China increasingly threatens its bottom line. London-based HSBC Holdings has hired Washington firms Chesapeake Enterprises and Miller Strategies for help with “issues related to banking regulation” according to new filings under the domestic Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). Both registrations were effective Sept 16. HSBC Holdings draws more than two-thirds of its pretax income from Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg, and has repeatedly come under fire from the Donald Trump administration for supporting the Chinese authorities’ position in Hong Kong.
Chesapeake’s owner, Scott Reed, is a longtime top political adviser for the US Chamber of Commerce. Reed told The New York Times last month that he’d quit the Chamber because of its supposed leftward tilt. The Chamber in turn said he was fired for repeated breaches of confidentiality. Lobbying on the account for Miller Strategies is CEO Jeffrey Miller and principal Jessica Mandel. Miller has more than 25 years in Republican leadership positions, including serving as Finance Chair of the 2020 Republican National Convention.
HSBC North America spent $1.1 million on in-house lobbying in the first half of the year, including on the Hong Kong Accountability Act and the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act. HSBC North America in turn paid the Daily Consulting Group $60,000 while HSBC Technology & Services USA paid the Smith-Free Group another $60,000.
New foreign lobbying filings (FARA)
Law firm DLA Piper stopped representing the government of Bahrain and the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington on Aug. 31. The firm had represented Bahrain since 2014 and the Afghan embassy since 2018. DLA Piper did not disclose any lobbying activities for either client during the six months through August but received $8,000 from the Afghan embassy. Other DLA clients include:
- German State of Rheinland-Pfalz: Lobbyists for the firm held phone calls with multiple officials in Congress and the Donald Trump administration regarding the president’s plans to remove about 12,000 troops from the country, about a third of the current total. They notably spoke with Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations panel on military construction, as well as House Armed Services Committee member Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Appropriations panel on military construction. They also spoke with US Army European liaison officer Timothy Touzinsky. The southwestern German state is home to several military installations including Ramstein air base, the headquarters of US operations in Europe. DLA Piper received $116,000 from the state during the six-month period;
- Palestine Monetary Authority: DLA provided “assistance with compliance with anti-money laundering and economic sanctions laws and regulations” for the Palestinians but did not report any media outreach or political lobbying. The firm received $188,000 during the period;
- Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste: DLA Piper contacted the State Department’s country officer for Timor-Leste, Audrey Moyer, via email. Policy adviser Jessica Wooley stopped lobbying on the account on April 1. The country paid DLA Piper $185,000 during the six-month period.
- Azerbaijan Railways CJSC: No payments or political activities during the period.
- Innovation Norway: DLA Piper received $4,750 from the innovation and development arm of the Norwegian government but did not disclose any lobbying.
Holland & Knight received $105,000 from the Embassy of Qatar in Washington during the six months through August. Lobbyists for the firm engaged with multiple congressional offices over language in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) regarding the US air base at al-Udeid. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill include $26 million in US spending for military construction at the base and $791.2 million in Qatari contributions. The House version also includes a sense of Congress praising Qatar as a US security partner and calling for a resolution to its dispute with rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have boycotted the country since June 2017. Holland & Knight lobbyists notably spoke by phone with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and fellow committee member Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who also sits on the House Armed Services Committee. Lobbyists also corresponded with House Armed Services Committee members Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.).
Other Holland & Knight clients include:
- Government of the United Kingdom: No lobbying activity reported but $10,000 in payments for legal representation;
- Embassy of Japan (see entry below under Japan);
- Government of Gibraltar (see entry below);
- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: No lobbying activity reported but $104,000 in payments for legal representation;
- Sada Cumber (India/Saudi Arabia): Holland & Knight received $56,000 from Pakistani-American businessman Sada Cumber for legal representation of nine Indian guest workers detained in Saudi Arabia;
- Talal al-Dabbous (Kuwait): Holland & Knight received $105,000 for legal representation of Kuwaiti businessman Talal al-Dabbous.
Seychelles: Edelman has registered Executive Vice President Renee Calabro of New York on its account with HDR Global Trading. The Seychelles-registered company operates the cryptocurrency trading platform BitMEX in the United States.
Bermuda: Chicago PR firm Kivvit has registered Washington-based digital director Thomas Kelley on its account with the Bermuda Business Development Agency.
Canada: The central Canadian province of Manitoba paid Foster Garvey almost $25,000 in the six months through August for “legal services concerning water supply projects in North Dakota.” The firm was hired in 2011 to advocate on hydroelectric exports to the United States.
Haiti: Baltimore area consultant Richard Shamlin of Maryland lobbied Congress regarding “human rights and the current political crisis in Haiti” earlier this year on behalf of Reginald Boulos, a former president of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Haiti turned politician. A new lobbying filing shows Shamlin met twice with Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) in January and February as well as with staff for several other lawmakers to press for passage of legislation from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to measure human rights and economic progress in the country (the bill remains stuck in committee). President Jovenel Moise has been ruling by decree for more than six months after elections scheduled last year were postponed indefinitely after parliament failed to adopt an electoral law. Shamlin has disclosed a total of $25,500 in payments from Boulos from the time he was hired on Dec. 1, 2019 until the contract’s termination on Feb. 29.
China: Chartwell Strategy Group received $200,000 from partially state-owned Chinese voice recognition company iFlytek for media outreach during the six months through August. iFlytek hired Chartwell in June 2019 shortly before the US Commerce Department sanctioned the company over its alleged implication in human rights violations against the Uighur Muslim community in Xinjiang.
- Holland & Knight has renewed its contract with the Embassy of Japan in Washington through March 2021. The rate is for $80,000 per year, $20,000 less than the rate agreed to in 2018. Lobbying on the account are former Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), a partner at the firm, and senior policy adviser Scott Mason, the former director of congressional relations for President Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign and transition team. During the six months through August the firm received $40,000 from the embassy for legal advice and services but did not disclose any lobbying activities. Senior policy adviser Paul Bock left the firm and the account on Aug. 31.
- Seattle law firm Foster Garvey has replaced Garvey Schubert Barer as the lobby firm for Japanese fishing interests following the latter firm’s merger with Foster Pepper. Foster Garvey has just disclosed that it signed a year-long, $54,000 contract back in April with the Global Guardian Trust, a Tokyo-based group that promotes the sustainable use of marine life. Garvey Schubert Barer had represented the trust since 2010 and previously represented the Japan Fisheries Association. Foster Garvey is providing “legal analysis and monitoring services in connection with US congressional, administrative and judicial action in the area of US fishing law developments that may affect Japanese vessels on high seas or otherwise affect the Japanese fishing industry.” These include fisheries subsidies, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act and House-passed legislation to prohibit the sale of shark fins. Foster Garvey has already received $32,000 from the trust in the six months through August but has not registered anyone on the account.
- Hogan Lovells received $155,000 from the Embassy of Japan in the six months through August but did not disclose any lobbying activity.
Georgia: The government of Georgia paid the Chartwell Strategy Group $420,000 during the six months through August. The firm in turn paid Washington PR firm Dorval Strategies $40,000 for “professional services.” Managing Director Matt Epperly met with Reps. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) during the period while founding partner David Tamasi discussed bilateral relations on the phone with House Appropriations Committee staff, National Security Council senior adviser Alex Gray and strategic adviser for the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Tyler Brace. Tamasi also discussed this summer’s Republican Study Committee (RSC) national security strategy, which calls for tough sanctions against Russia, with Executive Director Dan Ziegler and Hayden Haynes, chief of staff to RSC Chairman Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.).
Georgia: Hogan Lovells received $225,000 from the ruling Georgian Dream Party of billionaire businessman and politician Bidzina Ivanishvili in the six months through Aug. 31. During that time lobbyists for the firm met with Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and spoke on the phone with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Brian Babin (R-Texas).
Germany: Business Development Manager Helena Gittelman has registered as a foreign agent for NRW.invest, the economic development agency of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, in Chicago.
Gibraltar: Holland & Knight has renewed its contract with the government of Gibraltar through March 31 at the current rate of $35,000 per month ($480,000 per year). The firm has three of its partners registered on the account: former Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), Michael Galano and Kathryn Hazeem Lehman. Joining them are senior policy adviser Scott Mason, the former director of congressional relations for President Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign and transition team, and subcontractor David Liston, a partner with Liston Abramson in New York and US representative of the government of Gibraltar. During the six months through August Holland & Knight lobbyists reported multiple phone calls with Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.), a longtime champion of the island who was awarded the Gibraltar Medallion of Honor in 2017. They also spoke with Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.) and corresponded with several other legislative offices regarding “the status of Gibraltar as an integral part of the United Kingdom” as the British overseas territory figures out its relationship with the European Union following Brexit. Holland & Knight employees Kerry Feehery and Paul Bock left the firm and its Gibraltar account on June 26 and Aug. 31, respectively.
Norway : Waxman Strategies disclosed $567,000 from environmental groups during the six months through August. The Department of Justice mandated the disclosures because the groups are partly funded by grants from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), as Foreign Lobby Report first reported on June 23.
United Kingdom: Washington-based attorney Sterling Price Adams Darling has registered as a foreign agent on Linklaters‘ contract with the British Department for International Trade.
Darling will provide “assistance to the UK Government in negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.” The London law firm received $432,000 from the British government during the six months through August for “legal analysis, advice, reports, and related support.”
The firm in turn paid its subcontractors Fragomen ($53,000), Steptoe & Johnson ($12,000) and Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis ($11,000).
Read our run-down of all the law firms working on the post-Brexit negotiations with the US here.
Ukraine: The Livingston Group has terminated its lobbying for the Ukrainian steel association Ukrmetalurgprom as of Aug. 31. The firm had represented the association since April 2018 and was paid $20,000 per month. Registered on the account were firm founder and former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), international practice area director Cathryn Kingsbury and managing partner J. Allen Martin.
Qatar: Qatar lobby shop Husch Blackwell Strategies said it only $150,000 in the six months through August after a $30,000 monthly payment in April was paid to what the firm called a “fraudulent account” after the firm was hacked. “We didn’t receive the money … don’t know how you want to spin that,” the firm wrote in its latest filing with the Justice Department. Husch Blackwell lobbies for the Embassy of Qatar in Washington as a subcontractor for Venable, Lobbyists for the firm met with House Foreign Affairs Committee member Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and with Dana Grisham, the chief of staff for Senate Armed Services Committee member Doug Jones (R-Ala.), during the six months through August.
Saudi Arabia: Hogan Lovells lobbyists met with US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid in March on behalf of the Saudi Embassy in Washington and help phone calls with several US officials in the six months through August. These include Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.); Ed Markey (D-Mass.); Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska); John Thune (R-S.D.); and Mark Warner (D-Va.) as well as US Trade Representative John Lighthizer and then-US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook. Senior paralegal Leyla Gungor left the account on Aug. 31.
United Arab Emirates: Edelman continues to add agents around the world to its public relations account with Mashreqbank, the UAE’s oldest private bank. Executive Vice President Vinod Krishnamoorthy and Associate Vice President Siddharth Prakash Panicker in Mumbai and senior account manager Deepshikha Sinha in New Delhi have now registered as foreign agents on the account.
New domestic lobbying filings (LDA)
LG Chem Michigan, a US subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate LG, has hired two firms to lobby on trade issues. Dentons US will lobby on “administration of US trade laws and regulations concerning trade secrets for manufactured products in the energy sector.” Lobbying on the account are John Russell, a former chief of staff to ex-Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.); Alexander Lurie, former chief of staff to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.); Margeaux Plaisted; and Elmer Stancil. Miller Strategies will lobby on “issues related to trade enforcement and compliance, including intellectual property issues.” Registered on the account are CEO Jeffrey Miller, the Finance Chair of the 2020 Republican National Convention; Jonathan Hiler, former director of legislative affairs for the Office of Vice President Mike Pence and legislative director for Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.); and George Caram. Both registrations were effective Sept. 15.