Latin America dominated foreign influence contracts last month, with El Salvador and the Dominican Republic spending more than $1 million to cement their new leaders’ standing with the Donald Trump administration and prepare for what comes next.
The office of Dominican President Luis Abinader led the pack with a six-month, $618,000 lobbying deal with Vision Americas, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of new contracts disclosed with the US Department of Justice in October. Abinader has forged close ties with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned his predecessor Danilo Medina against running for a third term last year and led the US delegation to Abinader’s Aug. 16 inauguration.
The firm was founded by Roger Francisco Noriega, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) under President George W. Bush. Vision Americas has in turn hired Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a former congressman and brother of sitting Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.), and his Miami lobbying firm Western Hemisphere Strategies for $120,000.
Meanwhile El Salvador has hired a Washington firm led by former Bill Clinton aide Patrick Dorton for public relations help after its previous contract with a lobbyist close to President Trump came under fire. The country’s presidential palace signed a six-month, $65,000-a-month contract with Washington strategic communications firm Rational PR for help with “public relations and communications support, consultation, and technical support.”
Finally, another former Republican congressman from Florida, Rep. Connie Mack, has joined the campaign to defend former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe from accusations of links to right-wing paramilitary groups. Mack’ Liberty International Group is working as a subcontractor to the DCI Group, a Republican firm.
In other October lobbying news:
- Morocco’s biggest company, the 94 % state-owned phosphate mining giant OCP, launched a massive lobbying and public relations campaign to stave off threatened US tariffs and rebuild its presence in Washington;
- Azerbaijan and Armenia continued to litigate their dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in the US court of public opinion, with each side hiring new lobbying and public relations firms while Armenian activists campaigned for US firms to drop Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey;
- The office of Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara signed a $300,000 deal with the Glover Park Group ahead of a disputed election that saw him win a questionable third term last week;
- The International Criminal Court in The Hague hired a US law firm to fight the Trump administration’s sanctions;
- The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary hired a right-wing social media darling to push back against criticism from President-elect Joe Biden and others;
- A lobbyist close to President Trump registered as a pro bono agent for one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s backchannels to Washington; and
- The Embassy of India diversified its Washington presence by hiring a firm close to the Congressional Black Caucus.
The Indian embassy also re-upped its $700,000-a-year contract with BGR Government Affairs for another six months, one of three foreign lobbying renewals disclosed with the US Department of Justice last month.