- Quincy Institute’s Trita Parsi on the new era of activist think tanks
- Azerbaijan shakes up its lobbying
- Japan hires PR help to reassure on Olympics
- Teneo signs third contract with Saudi Arabia megacity
Trita Parsi of the dovish Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QI) dishes on how COVID-19 laid bare the limits of US military hegemony and the similarities with rival activist think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in this week’s episode of The Influencers, Foreign Lobby Report‘s new podcast in collaboration with Richard Levick of crisis communications firm Levick.
“New thinking is not happening necessarily in the think tanks; it’s happening in advocacy organizations,” Parsi told us. “And then eventually there will be some form of hybrids emerging, whether that is FDD or QI, because there is some space in between that has been left empty.”
Pressure to stay relevant means the old think tank model is giving way to more ideologically driven and more nimble organizations that are just as comfortable fighting on Twitter as they are interfacing with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, he said. Interestingly, Parsi raised concerns with the new trend his group is a part of: “I think overall it’s not terribly awesome, to be completely frank.”
Check out the podcast below and read the story here.
Azerbaijan is shaking up its lobbying amid continuing strife with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. The Livingston Group terminated its registration as a foreign agent of the Azerbaijani government on Oct.13, just three months after telling the US Justice Department that it was in the process of negotiating a contract with Baku. No contract was ever filed. Livingston did not respond to a request for comment. The firm’s founder, former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), and partner John Bernard Robinson, a former chief of staff to Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), had been registered on the account and had already started lobbying the House Rules Committee ahead of this summer’s vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Livingston previously represented the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington from 2005 to 2009 as well as the Embassy of Turkey, Azerbaijan’s key ally.
Meanwhile a Baku-based company called simply Investment Corporation, LLC has hired the S-3 Group of Washington for $25,000 per month to “create and place earned and digital media to further diplomacy.” The three-month contract began Oct. 8 and was signed by S-3 founder John Scofield, a former House Appropriations Committee staffer, and Samarqand Aslanov. S-3’s filing with the Department of Justice notes that the company is owned by Seyidov Tural Oglu. S-3 did not respond to a request for more information about Oglu or his company. S-3 has six people registered on the account: Managing Director Scofield, vice-president of public affairs Zachary Gillan, head of digital Hastie Afkham, managing director/marketing Howard Opinsky, communications manager Nicole Connolly and communications associate Margaret Luddy. Read our deep dive into rival lobbying by Azerbaijan and Armenian-American groups here.
New foreign lobbying filings (FARA)
Haiti: Mercury Public Affairs has registered Anna Kredisova on its account with the Presidency of the Republic of Haiti.
Japan: Ogilvy has a new $286,000 work contract with the Embassy of Japan in Washington to share Japan’s best practices for managing the COVID-19 epidemic and increase awareness about the country’s health efforts ahead of next year’s Olympic Games. “Ogilvy will work with the Embassy of Japan to increase awareness for Japan’s efforts to combat COVID-19 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics by targeting U.S. health care providers,” the work order states. Ogilvy has worked for the embassy since February 2020.
Myanmar: The Inle Advisory Group has terminated its registration for Myanmar’s Kanbawza Bank as of Oct. 9. Firm founder Erin Lee Murphy registered in December to assist the bank with “[anti-money laundering regulations] and sanctions compliance, adherence to international banking standards, financial inclusion, and best practices on gender equality in the workplace as well as charitable giving through its foundation.” She disclosed $80,000 in fees and a handful of lobbying contacts for the bank: One meeting with State Department Burma country officer Craig Halbmaier in February and a July webinar with US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director for Myanmar Teresa McGhie and Tatum Albertine, the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar.
Jersey: Peregrine Communications has added public relations and communications consultant Thomas Conroy in New York to its investment promotion account for Jersey Finance Limited.
Ukraine: Yorktown Solutions has been hard at work defending state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz following tax evasion allegations by state auditors. Yorktown has notably highlighted the decision of Amos Hochstein, a US special envoy for international energy affairs under President Barack Obama, to step down from the Naftogaz board citing what he described as a corrupt campaign of “unfounded allegations” against the company.
Kuwait: Tricuro has belatedly disclosed that it stopped representing Marsha Lazareva, a Russian businesswoman and former CEO of Kuwait’s KGL Investment accused of embezzlement, on Sept. 30, 2019. Tricuro was hired to represent Lazareva in August 2019 by Sanglier Media in London. The firm disclosed a total of $75,000 in fees and expenses for the work.
Morocco: Fleishman-Hillard has added three subcontractors to its public relations contract with Moroccan phosphate mining giant OCP Group. All three work for VOX Global, a partner agency under the umbrella of parent company Omnicom. They are: VOX Partner Lizanne Sadlier; Senior Vice-President Bailey Witt and account supervisor Erin Evenson. Read our story from Wednesday on OCP’s PR and lobbying blitz against subsidy allegations here.
Type of work
Oct. 6, 2020 – March 31, 2021
Covington & Burling
Legal / lobbying
Started Oct. 7
Partner Bruce Wilson
Cornerstone Government Affairs
Oct. 1, 2020 – Sept. 30, 2021
Started Aug. 1
Qatar: New York public relations firm RF Binder Partners added associate Christina Goldstein to its contract with the Qatar Foundation, a non-profit founded by former Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.
- New York CEO advisory firm Teneo has signed a third contract with the government-funded group behind Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion gamble to sprout a futuristic megacity in the desert. The Neom Company agreed to pay Teneo $250,000 to help establish “deeper relationships with key stakeholders in the US, UK, China, Hong Kong and Australia, including business leaders, academics, media, potential partners and investors, and other opinion makers.” The newly disclosed contract was effective Sept. 2 and the work was to be completed by Sept. 25. The work was to be led by Richard Powell and Padraic Riley, members of Teneo’s senior team in New York. Teneo previously signed a contract for 328,000 Riyals ($87,000) per week to develop a strategic positioning plan for NEOM CEO Nadhmi al-Nasr in July 2019 and another for 130,000 Riyals ($35,000) per week in December 2019 to manage the NEOM Communications Department. NEOM has also hired Ruder Finn for $1.7 million and hired BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) for $1.1 million.
- Separately, MSLGroup Americas added account supervisor Paris Kissel to its account with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Kissel also represents the Mecca-based Muslim World League.
Turkey: 2016 Donald Trump campaign adviser Barry Bennett has personally registered as a foreign agent for a Turkish lawmaker who has long served as one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s backchannels to Washington. Bennett registered his firm Avenue Strategies Global last week on behalf of Member of Parliament Ali Ihsan Arslan, better known as Mucahit Arslan, as we first reported Friday. Bennett’s filing says he will provide “communications with Members of Congress and Congressional staff, Executive Branch officials, the media, and with other individuals and organizations that could reference relations with the Republic of Turkey.” 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.
In other news
Civil society groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo want their government to investigate millions of dollars in payments former President Joseph Kabila paid to an Israeli lobbying firm close to President Donald Trump‘s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, reports the Daily Beast. Congolese lobbying in Washington continues apace, as we reported here.