Latest filings

Saudis hire GOP firm for pre-inauguration push; Keystone pipeline owner retains ex-senators; Ghana president’s party hires lobbyist ahead of elections: Tuesday’s Daily Digest

Saudis pick up former Heritage Foundation lobbyist for pre-inauguration push

The Saudi Embassy in Washington has hired a former top lobbyist for the conservative Heritage Foundation for a short-term legislative push before Joe Biden is expected to be sworn in as president.

The $25,000-per-month contract with Tripp and Jennifer Baird’s Off Hill Strategies was effective Oct. 19 and lasts through Jan. 18, 2021, right before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. The firm is tasked with providing “federal legislative advocacy and related services to support the Embassy’s congressional outreach efforts and further advance bilateral ties between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

Biden has promised to end the cozy relationship Riyadh has enjoyed with President Donald Trump, calling Saudi Arabia a “pariah” during a primary debate last year. He has vowed to stop US arms sales for use in the Saudi-led war against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen and to try to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

Read the story here.


Sens. Lott and Breaux strike $350,000 deal with Keystone Pipeline’s Alberta province

Former Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.) have picked up their first foreign client since their acrimonious departure from Squire Patton Boggs to Crossroads Strategies in June.

The pair have registered to lobby for the energy-rich province of Alberta, part-owner of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline between the province’s oil sands and refineries in Illinois and Texas. The $350,000 contract calls on Crossroads to develop and execute government relations strategies “regarding the export of goods, including natural resources from the Province of Alberta to the United States.”

The year-long contract with Alberta’s Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation was signed on Nov. 5, with the outcome of the US presidential election still in doubt. In a tell-tale sign that Alberta foresees more trouble from Democrats, the fee is for $30,000 per month starting in December in case of a Joe Biden victory but only $25,000 in case of a second term for President Donald Trump.

Read the story here.


New lobbying filings

Africa

Ethiopia: The Embassy of Ethiopia paid Barnes & Thornburg $60,000 in the six months through September to lobby exclusively on the dispute with Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile, according to a new lobbying filing. Lobbyists for the firm notably held phone calls with Vice President Mike Pence‘s deputy national security adviser Steve Pinkos and Africa adviser Bruce Friedman; National Security Council Senior Director for African Affairs Erin Walsh; Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy; Special Assistant to the USAID administrator Graham Higgins; US International Development Finance Corporation officials Caleb McCarry and Jacob Ashendorf; and Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Sean Cairncross, in addition to contacts with multiple House and Senate staffers on both sides of the aisle. The firm also disclosed a Sept. 24 meeting with the State Department’s Nagy, senior adviser Louis Mazel and political/military officer Francesco Barbacci. Consultants Claire Parker and Jules Mermoud were terminated Sept. 30, leaving Barnes & Thornburg partner Craig Burkhardt as the only registered on the account. President Donald Trump has been widely seen as favoring Egypt in the dispute.

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Ghana: Greystone Global Strategies has signed a $26,500 contract with the center-right New Patriotic Party of Ghana for communications and government relations help from Nov. 1 until Dec. 15, a week after the West African country’s general election. President Nana Akufo-Addo, the party’s leader, is running for a second term against former president John Mahama of the center-left National Democratic Congress. The Washington political consulting firm has long worked with African nations in political transition. Its new contract calls on Greystone to “support the presidential and parliamentary campaign teams in the areas of communications and government relations” including through the “creation and dissemination of informational material, as well as outreach to US media, civil society organizations, and government officials.” The contract was signed by New Patriotic Party campaign manager Peter Mac Manu and Greystone CEO Chris Beatty. Beatty, who is the only registered agent on the account, is also a registered lobbyist for the office of the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s National Assembly.

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Americas

El Salvador: Washington-based Invest El Salvador Inc. has registered as a foreign agent for the government of El Salvador. The company is to be paid $65,000 per month from Nov. 1, 2020 through Oct. 31, 2021 on work “to improve bilateral United States – El Salvador communications, promote foreign direct investment into El Salvador, and work with the Salvadorian diaspora.” Registered on the account are President and Chairman David Metzner, Executive Director Brian Dean, and Director/Treasurer Damian Matias Merlo.

Asia

China: Ruder Finn Executive Vice President Travis Murdock has registered on the New York PR firm’s account with Huawei Technologies USA.

Japan: Beacon Policy Advisors received $32,500 from the Embassy of Japan in the six months through October for advice on legislative and executive branch activities. Managing director and head of research Rachel Pierson left the firm and the Japan account on July 31.

Middle East

Morocco: DiNino Associates is now lobbying for the US affiliate of Moroccan phosphate mining giant OCP as a subcontractor to Cornerstone Government Affairs. Firm President Paul DiNino is the only registered agent on the account. The contract was effective Nov. 11 and has no set value. This is the fifth firm to join OCP’s lobbying and public relations campaign against threatened US tariffs.

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United Arab Emirates: The Harbour Group disclosed $3.2 million in payments from the UAE Embassy in Washington for the six months through September. Lobbyists for the firm notably helped coordinate with Jewish groups including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Washington Hebrew Congregation, the Simon Weisenthal Center and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations as well as the US Commission on International Religious Freedom around this summer’s signing of the Abraham Accords between the UAE and Israel. The Harbour Group did not disclose any payments or political activities for its other foreign client, the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi.

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