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World Court retains law firm to fight US sanctions; Dominican Republic hires Bush-era hawk; Italian embassy gets PR help to draw better crowds: Friday’s Daily Digest

World Court retains US law firm to fight Trump sanctions

ICC Prosecutor General Fatou Bensouda / ICC image

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has retained a US law firm to fight the Donald Trump administration’s sanctions against its top officials.

The Washington office of Connecticut-based Wiggin and Dana is representing the Office of the Prosecutor, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the court’s head of jurisdiction, according to a new filing with the Department of Justice.

The Trump administration has taken aim at the court as it investigates possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by US military forces and the CIA in Afghanistan. Wiggin and Dana is providing outreach to the Trump administration regarding the sanctions pro bono and will advise on a potential legal challenge.

This isn’t the first time a world body turns to a US firm after finding itself in the crosshairs of Trump’s “America First” agenda. Earlier this year the World Health Organization hired public relations giant Hill and Knowlton Strategies for $135,000 to target key influencers as it battled the president’s attacks over its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Lobby Report first reported July 17.

Read the story here.

Dominican Republic strikes $600,000 lobbying deal with Bush-era hawk

The Dominican Republic has signed a $600,000 lobbying contract with a veteran Latin America hawk as newly elected President Luis Abinader seeks to consolidate the close US partnership he has forged under the Donald Trump administration.

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Roger Noriega

The Dominican Ministry of the Presidency signed a six-month, $103,000-a-month contract on Oct. 9 with Vision Americas and its founder Roger Francisco Noriega. Noriega is a former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) under President George W. Bush.

The contract comes as US-Dominican relations have deepened under Abinader. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo led the US delegation to Abinader’s inauguration on Aug. 16, two days after the Dominican Republic stood out as the only country at the UN Security Council to vote with the United States to indefinitely extend the UN arms embargo on Iran.

Read the story here.

New foreign lobbying filings (FARA)

Italy: The Italian Embassy in Washington has hired public affairs firm S-3 to “amplify” virtual and in-person events hosted by the embassy and help draw a “more qualified audience.” The three-month, $12,500-per-month contract was effective Oct. 1. S-3 reports to Giulia Prati, the head of the embassy’s Cultural Affairs Office.

According to the service agreement the campaign’s objectives are to :

  • Use social media to amplify online/virtual events and draw a more qualified audience to the embassy’s virtual events or events sponsored by the Embassy;
  • Use digital channels to promote and amplify monthly themes and ad-hoc campaigns of the embassy to specific target audiences and earned media, specialized press, blogs, and influences; and
  • Support the Embassy’s team in all aspects of social media execution, including helping to train the various team members located remotely at Consular offices in the US.

Registered on the account are S-3 Principal Matt Bravo, Managing Director / marketing Howard Opinsky, head of digital Hastie Afkhami, communications manager Nicole Connolly and communications associate Margaret Luddy. This is the first time in more than 50 years that the embassy has had a lobbying or public relations firm registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

New domestic lobbying filings (LDA)

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan in Toronto has hired BGR Government Affairs to provide “strategic counsel and policy analysis related to financial services, tax and infrastructure issues.” Registered on the account are former Senate Finance Committee policy director and aide to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Matthew Hoffmann and Andrew Lewin, a former legislative director for ex-congressmen Dennis Moore (D-Kansas) and Max Sandlin (D-Texas).

Squire Patton Boggs reported $80,000 in lobbying fees from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in the third quarter. The firm lobbied on Congress on “telecommunications, export controls, and trade and economic sanctions, including the National Defense Authorization Act.”

In other news

Don’t miss The Intercept‘s investigation into behind-the-scenes lobbying for Chinese telecommunications company ZTE by Eric Branstad, the son of President Donald Trump‘s former ambassador to China Terry Branstad.