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Bermuda lobbies CDC for lower COVID risk rating; Azerbaijan leverages US businesses against Armenia; ex-Trump fundraiser Broidy charged with illegal lobbying: Thursday’s Daily Digest

Bermuda lobbies CDC for lower COVID risk rating

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Bermuda has launched an all-out lobbying push to get the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lower its COVID-19 risk rating. In an application to the CDC Travel Health Notice System, lobbyists for the British Overseas Territory urge the CDC to lower its rating from moderate (Level 2) to low (Level 1), citing metrics including the number of new cases and Bermuda’s essential health services capacity. The document was made public in a new filing by Bermuda lobbyist theGROUP DC. The firm also complained to Congress that with its current CDC ranking, people coming from Bermuda are required to quarantine if they travel to New York, which could discourage tourism.

“Bermuda has been very successful in its coordinated response to this pandemic. It remains at a high state of preparedness,” the application states. “This is why it is very attractive to tourist and business visitors. Its present classification as a Level 2 country does not fit with the CDC criteria. Bermuda’s virus transmission rate, healthcare capacity and public health infrastructure is well placed to be on Level 1 based on the CDC criteria. Your consideration to Bermuda’s de-escalation to Level 1 would be sincerely appreciated.”

Bermuda isn’t alone in lobbying the Donald Trump administration to rethink aspects of its COVID-19 policy.

Over the summer, the Dominican Republic got former Trump Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard to ask top health officials to allow the exportation of the COVID-19 therapeutic remdesivir, Foreign Lobby Report revealed in July.

Ecuador hired a public relations team to improve its reputation in the United States regarding their handling of the epidemic.

And the US branch of the South Korean megachurch blamed for the country’s largest COVID-19 outbreak has hired a lobby shop to raise awareness about what it claims is persecution by the Korean government.

New lobbying filings

Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan is roping in US businesses that operate in the country as part of its campaign to blame Armenia for the recent eruption of violence in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan lobby firm BGR facilitated an online press briefing by the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, according to a new lobbying disclosure. The firm has also distributed a statement from the Chamber criticizing reports of Armenia artillery attacks against Azerbaijani infrastructure, particularly the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan and South Caucasus pipelines that serve the European energy market. Read our deep dive into the Armenia-Azerbaijan lobbying battle in Washington here.

Japan: Toyota has hired Washington government affairs consulting firm H&M Strategies to lobby on “general issues impacting the auto industry.” Lobbying on the account are Ralph Hellmann and Nicole Mortier. Hellmann previously lobbied for the Japanese automaker via the Lugar Hellmann Group along with David Lugar, son of former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). Separately, the Tokyo-based Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association spent $30,000 in the third quarter of the year lobbying Congress and the State Department regarding the association members’ contributions to the US economy, community support and workforce development.

Nigeria: Exiled activist Nnamdi Kanu released a statement ahead of Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate urging moderator Susan Page to press the candidates on how they would deal with allegations of political violence against religious minorities in Nigeria. Kanu is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, which advocates for independence for the predominantly Christian southeastern region. “The Nigerian diaspora in the United States knows that when its government speaks, the world listens, and when the United States acts, innocent lives can be saved,” Kanu said. The statement was distributed by Kanu lobby shop Mercury Public Affairs.

In other news

Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for President Donald Trump and the Republic Party, has been charged with illegal lobbying on behalf of fugitive financier Jho Low, Bloomberg reports. Broidy was paid $6 million to lobby the Justice Department to stop investigating the embezzlement scandal at Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, according to charging documents. He was allegedly to get another $75 million if he the lobbying succeeded. Former Justice Department official George Higginbotham and Broidy associate Nickie Mali Lum Davis have previously pleaded guilty in the scheme. New York-based international law firm Kobre & Kim and reputation advisory firm Schillings International are registered as foreign agents for Low, with Levick Strategic Communications and Wells Haslem Mayhew Strategic Public Affairs in turn working for Kobre & Kim on the account.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Foreign Lobby Report was first to report on June 18 that Low’s $3.4 million US influence campaign was underwritten by a Kuwaiti royal and a Thai tycoon.

The US Justice Department invoked US lobbying law in this week’s seizure of 92 domain names that it said were “unlawfully used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to engage in a global disinformation campaign.” The department said in a press release that four of the domains “purported to be genuine news outlets but were actually controlled by the IRGC and targeted the United States for the spread of Iranian propaganda to influence United States domestic and foreign policy in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).”

Bill Berl, a former lobbyist for the US subsidiary of defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI North America), has joined Strategic Marketing Innovations as a vice president, Politico reports.