Latest filings

Armenian embassy hires PR firm; Taiwan lobby paved the way for trade deal with Pence call; Harry Reid adviser registers for Afghans: Thursday’s Daily Digest

Armenia hires PR firm as conflict with Azerbaijan lingers

The Armenian government has hired a New York firm for a monthlong public relations blitz as its conflict with Azerbaijan lingers.

The Embassy of Armenia in Washington hired Copper Strategies on Oct. 30 for media outreach and social media engagement regarding the ongoing hostilities over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The contract is for $20,000 and only lasts through the end of November but could be renewed if the fighting persists beyond then.

The contract comes as both Armenia and Azerbaijan have been beefing up their outreach to US policymakers and the American public as each side blames the other for the flare-up.

Read the story here.


New foreign lobbying filings (FARA)

Africa

Ivory Coast: The Ivory Coast branch of accounting giant KPMG has hired The CONSILIO Group of Washington to lobby Congress and the executive branch for US federal assistance for the country’s health sector. The firm is targeting funding from the US International Development Finance Corporation’s Health and Prosperity Initiative that support “proposals to finance economically sustainable private sector projects in Africa that support the global COVID-19 response and investments in health system capacity.” The $10,300-a-month agreement was effective Nov. 4 and last three months. Registered on the account are CEO Oliver Meissner and government relations associates Brandon Kirby and Charles Prosch. KPMG is coordinating on the effort with Fiduciaire Internationale Ouest Afrique and the Global Challenge Corporation.

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Americas

Canada: Market research firm Certus Insights of Arlington, Va. received $35,500 from Forbes Tate Partners in the six months through September for work surveying voters in Maine on behalf of Canadian public utility Hydro-Quebec. Certus in turn paid Precision Opinion $7,700 and Dynata $3,000 for polling work. The utility had been building up opposition to a proposed referendum question barring the construction of a $1 billion cross-border power transmission line but the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in August that the ballot initiative was unconstitutional.

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Mexico: Qorvis Communications stopped representing the Tourism Promotion Council of the State of Quintana Roo as of July 31.

Asia

Afghanistan: A former top adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has signed on as a lobbyist for an Afghan-funded nonprofit whose board members include several members of the Afghan parliament. Jake Perry‘s Jake Perry + Partners will be lobbying on legislative and regulatory matters on behalf of the Afghanistan U.S. Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council, a US nonprofit. The year-long, $180,000 contract is as a subcontractor to Wise Capital Strategy of former Republican Capitol Hill aide Matthew Wise.

The Afghan group registered as a nonprofit in Delaware in November 2019. Its lobbying registration with the Department of Justice describes its mission as working to “encourage the U.S. to adopt legislation, military assistance, and foreign policy that will promote Afghan national security and strong U.S.-Afghanistan strategic ties, including anti-terrorism efforts.” The group is funded by Afghan businessman Mohammad Gul Raoufi, who is providing a $410,000 budget for 2020, and headed by executive director Martin Rahmani in Washington. Three Afghan lawmakers sit on its board of advisers: Mir Haider Afzaly, Naheed Farid and Haji Ajmal Rahmani.

The group hired Wise Capital Strategy for $30,000 per month in February. That same month it signed up Duncap Strategies, a Mississippi firm led by the former director of communications of that state’s Republican Party, Jennifer Dunagin, for $5,000 per month. Also registered as foreign agents working directly for the nonprofit are Andrew Clausnitzer, a managing partner with Victory Six Advisors in Washington, and adviser Jeffrey Richard Mallory.

Taiwan: Taiwan lobby firm Potomac International Partners played a behind-the-scenes role in easing US-Taiwan trade tensions this summer, scoring an Aug. 27 call with Vice-President Mike Pence to discuss Taiwanese restrictions on imports of US beef and pork, according to the firm’s latest lobbying disclosure. The very next day, President Tsai Ing-wen announced plans to allow the import of US pork containing ractopamine and allow in US beef more than 30 months old, paving the way for a potential free trade deal. Potomac lobbies for Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO).

A month later the firm went through a thorough shakeup, with President Bernie Merritt, CFO James Weber, account executive David Weber and consultant Phil Armstrong all leaving on Sept. 30. Meanwhile the firm registered employee Mattie Amagai as a foreign agent for TECRO at the end of October. The firm, which received $90,000 from TECRO during the six months through September, was founded in February 2018 when six small lobbying and public affairs firms (Cowan Strategies, Weber Merritt3 Click SolutionsBond & AssociatesPCA & Company and Global Political Solutions) joined forces to try to capture business from Republican firms damaged by their opposition to President Donald Trump.

Europe

Ukraine: Ravi Batra of New York stopped representing Ukrainian state aircraft manufacturer Antonov as of April 6, according to a new lobbying filing. The company Batra for $30,000 to enhance “bilateral relations between Antonov and the American business sector, including dealings with the Executive
branch and Congress in furtherance of these goals.” Batra has not reported any payments or political activity in 2020.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia: Market research firm Certus Insights of Arlington, Va. received almost $360,000 from Qorvis Communications/MSLGroup Americas for survey work on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the six months through September. During the period Certus paid American Directions Group $62,400 and Dynata $7,900 for polling work. The firm was hired in May 2019 to conduct “conduct quantitative surveys … on American attitudes and perceptions of Middle East and current event issues.”

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