- Trump 2016 adviser reps Erdogan backchannel to US
- Morocco phosphate industry launches US PR offensive amid subsidies probe
- Swiss group lobbies for business transparency
Trump 2016 adviser lobbies for Erdogan’s ‘secret-keeper’
A 2016 campaign adviser to President Donald Trump has signed on as a lobbyist for a Turkish lawmaker who has long served as one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s backchannels to Washington.
Barry Bennett registered his firm Avenue Strategies Global this week on behalf of Member of Parliament Ali Ihsan Arslan, better known as Mucahit Arslan. The firm is expected to provide assistance in introducing Arslan to “policy makers and thinkers” in Washington “for the purpose of developing better relations.”
In an email to Arslan filed with the Department of Justice, Bennett described himself as a “friend” of the lawmaker who would be working for free.
Read more here.
New foreign lobbying filings (FARA)
Morocco: Morocco’s phosphate fertilizer industry is launching a US PR offensive against accusations of illegal government subsidies.
OCP North America, the New York-based subsidiary of the 94% state-owned OCP Group, registered as a foreign agent this week after being asked to “coordinate and direct” a public relations campaign regarding countervailing duty investigations by the US government. OCP North America’s parent company in Casablanca is paying for the effort.
The PR push comes after the Mosaic Company, a Tampa-based rival, filed a complaint with the US Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission in June accusing Morocco and Russia of subsidizing their phosphate fertilizer industry through various means including “artificially cheap debt,” “specific tax breaks” and “the provision of phosphate rock mining rights on below-market terms.” OCP (formerly Office Cherifien des Phosphates) denies receiving any subsidies.
In an Oct. 5 memo (see below), OCP Chief Growth Officer Soufiyane El Kassi instructed OCP North America CEO Kerry McNamara to respond to the investigation via media relations, governmental lobbying and “interacting with investigative bodies.” McNamara is registered as a foreign agent on the account along with Director of Corporate Engagement Mehdi El Khatib al-Mahfoudi in New York and Vice-President Kevin Kimm in Minnesota.
OCP North America has already received $390,000 from its parent company for the project. The company communicated with consultant Thomas Forsythe throughout August “regarding messaging and strategy” for the contemplated public relations campaign.
Mosaic has its own bevvy of lobby firms: Squire Patton Boggs, Ballard Partners, Dawson & Associates and the Washington Tax & Public Policy Group. It also spent $730,000 on in-house lobbying in the first quarter of 2020, including on its duties case.
OCP is the world’s largest exporter of raw phosphate, most of which comes from the disputed territory of Western Sahara., with 9.9 million tons of fertilizer exports in 2019. The company told Reuters it could end its US exports, which amounted to $729 million last year, if duties are imposed.
Ghana: The Ministry of Finance of Ghana has renewed its lobbying contract with KRL International, a boutique Washington firm led by K. Riva Levinson that specializes in sub-Saharan Africa. KRL will continue to provide technical assistance to Ghana’s Embassy in Washington; lobby Congress and the executive branch; and engage with the donor community, potential investors and private sector organizations while also helping with communications and public relations. In addition, the firm will be “providing support in strategic planning to combat the impact of COVID-19” in the West African country, which saw a surge of cases over the summer after initially getting high praise for its response to the pandemic.
KRL has been representing the ministry since June 2017 for $25,000 per month. KRL Director Laura Brunts is the only employee currently registered on the account, according to Justice Department filings.
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
The US branch of the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit that promotes “transparency in global commerce and financial markets,” has hired Washington consulting firm Vox Global to lobby on “issues related to the global Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) database.” Lobbying on the account is Senior Vice President Sam Fabens. Vox Global in turn hired law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as a subcontractor. Brownstein has five people on the account: Zachary Pfister, former legislative director for ex-Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.); Katelynn Bradley, former director of Investor and Capital Markets Policy for the House Committee on Financial Services; Travis Norton, former counsel to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.); David Cohen, a former professional staffer on the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services; and Radha Mohan.
The US subsidiary of Italian drug-maker Chiesi Farmaceutici has registered an in-house lobbying arm. Senior Manager for Public Affairs for Global Rare Diseases Gina Cioffi Loud will lobby on “issues related to rare and ultra rare diseases, including monitoring regulatory and legislative policies.”
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