Latest filings

Bit player in impeachment drops Ukraine client; India re-ups BGR for $350,000; UAE spends $2 M for positive SEO and podcast: Monday’s Daily Digest

New foreign lobbying filings (FARA)

Americas

Aruba: Daniel J. Edelman‘s Zeno Group received $691,000 for work on behalf of the Aruba Tourism Authority in the six months through September. The tourism campaign included virtual visits of the island during the COVID-19 lockdown and postponable bookings for would-be honeymooners worried about potential future travel disruptions. The tourism authority selected Zeno as its agency of record for North America for three years in March 2019.

Haiti: The government of Haiti’s year-long contract with Dentons US was not renewed and ended on April 30, 2020, according to the firm’s latest lobbying filing. The law firm signed a $25,000-a-month contract with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 2019. In April lobbyists for the firm held teleconferences with the offices of Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), both members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and US assistance as well as renewal of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), which Congress renewed for another 10 years earlier this month. The government of Haiti is still represented by Mercury Public Affairs and Johanna LeBlanc, while Sorini Samet & Associates lobbies for L’Association des Industries d’Haiti (ADIH), a non-profit organization representing Haitian manufacturers that played a key lobbying role in CBTPA’s renewal.

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Asia

India: The Embassy of India in Washington has renewed its $700,000-a-year contract with BGR Government Affairs for another six months, through March 31, 2021. The firm has represented the Indian government since 2005. Founding Partner Edward Rogers registered as a foreign agent on the account this August. Others on the account include:

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South Korea: The Livingston Group received $17,000 from the US branch of a South Korean church linked to one of the country’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, according to the firm’s lobbying filing for the six months through September. The firm signed a $8,500-per-month contract with San Francisco Zion Church in August to “inform” US officials about the “persecution and undue treatment” of its associate church, Shincheonji Church of Jesus, following the arrest of church leader Lee Man-hee. Livingston Managing Partner J. Allen Martin first contacted Pamela Pryor, the acting assistant secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, on Sept. 11, according to the filing. He and Livingston’s international practice area director, Cathryn Kingsbury, followed up three days later with four State Department officials: Office of International Religious Freedom Director Daniel Nadel, Foreign Affairs Officer Serena Doan, senior adviser Riley Barnes and Korea desk officer Gillian Oak.

The firm’s founder, former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), spoke via email with Tim Davis, the executive assistant to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Sept. 21 and 25. In late September lobbyists for the firm emailed the offices of more than two dozen House and Senate members in leadership and on the foreign affairs committees. Kingsbury also held teleconferences with six Republican staffers:

  • Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) legislative assistant Molly Burke;
  • Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) legislative assistant Travis Trejo;
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) staff assistant Tyler LeMasters;
  • Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) legislative assistant James Welsh;
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) legislative counsel Grace Galvin; and
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) Peter Holland.
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Europe

Kosovo: The T. Dean Reed Company stopped acting as a consultant to Alston & Bird for the Embassy of Kosovo on April 1, according to the firm’s latest lobbying filing. Former journalist T. Dean Reed’s eponymous company has disclosed $320,000 in payments since it started working on the account in 2017. The firm reported no lobbying-related payments or activities in the six months through September. General Manager Kenneth Arnold was registered on the account.

Poland: The Livingston Group stopped representing the SEKCO Operating Company of Louisiana on April 22, according to the firm’s lobbying filing for the six months through September. The firm did not disclose any fees or lobbying on the account during the period. SEKCO hired Livingston for $12,500 per month in May 2019 for help with a legal dispute involving Polish iron and aluminum foundry Zaklad Metalurgiczny, which is 84 % owned by SEKCO owner Hugh Aiken.

Russia: Sidley Austin partners Michael Borden and James Mendenhall held telephone conferences with multiple US officials on behalf of Russia’s atomic energy agency TENEX in the six months through September, according to the firm’s latest lobbying filing. TENEX law firm White & Case hired the firm for an estimated $20,000 per month in late June to push back against US calls to restrict uranium imports. Sidley Austin did not report any TENEX-related fees during the period. The two men disclosed calls with :

  • Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Enforcement and Compliance Jeff Kessler;
  • National Security Council Director for Energy Nicholas Sherman;
  • Staffers for Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) / Senate Energy and Public Works Committee Brad Bunning and Andrew Zach;
  • Senate Energy Committee Democratic staffers Sam Fowler and Rory Stanley;
  • Staffers for Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) Kate Barlow and Jared Soncrant;
  • House Energy and Commerce staffers Peter Spencer and Tuley Wright;
  • Senate Energy Committee staffers Spencer Nelson and Brian Hughes.
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Separately, Russia’s JSC VTB Bank paid Sidley Austin $350,000 for “professional services rendered in connection with legal proceedings in the U.S. and related matters.” The law firm has been representing the bank since 2015.

Ukraine: The Livingston Group stopped representing the Ukrainian steel association UKRMETALURGPROM on Aug. 31, according to the firm’s latest lobbying filing. During the six months through September, the firm’s founder, former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), emailed with President Donald Trump‘s director of trade and manufacturing policy Peter Navarro several times to discuss exempting Ukrainian iron and steel exports from Trump’s tariffs as well as a possible trade agreement between the US and Ukraine (The Trump administration in October 2019 restored about a third of trade preferences with Ukraine under the Generalized System of Preferences that it had suspended in 2017 because of concerns over violations of US intellectual property rights).

Livingston was also in touch with Navarro’s deputy, Catherine Cole, National Trade Council Deputy Director for the defense industrial base Alexander Gray and senior policy analyst Garrett Zeigler. Livingston has disclosed $240,000 in payments since it began representing the steel association in 2018, including $100,000 in the past six months. Livingston’s Ukrainian lobbying became an issue during the president’s impeachment inquiry when State Department official Catherine Croft told House impeachment investigators that the former congressman had pressed for US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to be fired.

Middle East

Iraq: The Livingston Group helped set up a phone call between Iraqi Ambassador Fareed Yasseen and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee panel on the Middle East, according to the firm’s lobbying filing for the six months through September. The firm’s founder, former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), also emailed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s executive assistant Tim Davis at the end of September to schedule an appointment to discuss US-Iraq relations amid US threats to shutter the US Embassy in Baghdad. The firm has represented the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs since December 2017.

Iraq (Kurdistan): Dentons US partner Christopher Fetzer held teleconferences with House Armed Services Committee members Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) on behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government during the six months through September. He also teleconferenced with staffers for the House and Senate Armed Services panels to discuss the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Dentons principal Sander Lurie and associate Jasmine Zaki stopped representing the KRG on Sept. 30.

Separately, the KRG’s Ministry of Interior paid Alexandria strategic consultancy PASS $212,000 in the six months through September to help “develop a strategy for mitigation of Interior refugees and internally displaced people” in Iraqi Kurdistan. The firm did not disclose any lobbying activity during the period.

Israel: The Government of Israel paid Sidley Austin $13,500 for “professional services rendered in connection with legal proceedings in the US and related matters” in the six months through September.

Qatar: T. Dean Reed ended its $10,000-a-month contract with the Qatari Embassy in Washington on on April 1, according to the firm’s latest lobbying filing. Former journalist T. Dean Reed’s eponymous company has been paid $180,000 since it started representing the embassy in June 2018. The firm reported no lobbying-related payments or activities in the six months through September.

Qatar: Portland PR received more than $650,000 for work on behalf of the Qatari government in the six months through September, according to the firm’s latest lobbying filing. Of the total, $594,000 came from Portland PR Ltd. (Doha) for work on behalf of Qatar’s Government Communications Office, $60,000 from the Government of Qatar and $6,600 from Portland PR Ltd. (Doha) for work on behalf of First Lady Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser‘s Education Above All Foundation.

Turkey: Mercury Public Affairs continues to draw attention to Turkish business ties to key states as part of its work for the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK). The firm is distribution new fact sheets about Florida, the United States’ third-most populous states, and Idaho, the home state of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch.

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United Arab Emirates: The UAE Embassy in Washington spent more than $2 million for friendlier Internet search results and a podcast in the past six months. The embassy paid Syracuse-based Terakeet $1.75 million in the six months through September for search optimization services and to cover the firm’s travel and housing costs. And it paid TRG (The Rothkopf Group) Advisory Services its yearly $540,000 fee to develop TRG’s “Podbridge” podcast, according to the firm’s latest lobbying filing. The podcast covers “emerging issues and ideas of shared interest in the U.S., the Middle East and around the world.” The firm, which recently relocated from the Washington area to New York, was founded by former FP Group CEO David Rothkopf. TRG in turn spent $7,045 on “external podcast production services” and $3,226.25 on “external website maintenance expenses.”

Global

Finn Partners reported the following fees and expenses in the six months through September:

  • Jamaica Tourist Board : $583,000 in fees / $612,000 in expenses
  • British Department for International Trade: $104,000 / $5,000
  • Hong Kong Tourism Board: $76,000 / $11,000
  • Travel Alberta: $44,000 / $600

Finn in providing PR services as part of the British government’s multi-pronged negotiations over a free trade agreement with the United States following Brexit.

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International law firm Hausfeld spent $21,000 in the six months through October on its pro bono representation of Environmental Youth Activists, a group calling on the United Nations and member states to take action on climate change and related environmental issues.

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