Foreign countries and companies disclosed 20 new lobbying and public relations contracts worth $6 million in November as they prepare for the Joe Biden era, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings with the Department of Justice.
The new activity was dominated by Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, whose US affiliate Huawei Technologies USA signed a yearlong, $1.45 million contract with PR company Ruder Finn for “strategic counsel, media relations, analyst relations, data insights, content strategy and policy communications.” Ruder Finn replaces Pivot Integrated Communications, which had a smaller $939,000 contract with Huawei that was up for renewal in September.
The Ruder Finn contract comes just weeks after Huawei extended an almost $2 million contract with Racepoint Global for another year. The focus on public relations comes as Huawei’s lobbying spending dropped significantly in 2020 amid a lack of progress in talks with the Donald Trump administration and political uncertainty in Washington.
A handful of smaller contracts, first reported by Foreign Lobby Report, have drawn outsized attention in Washington, chief among them the Egyptian embassy’s hiring of former chief of staff to Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Nadeam Elshami and former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). The yearlong, $780,000 contract with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck comes as Cairo prepares to lose its personal connection Trump, who reportedly called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “my favorite dictator” and shielded Egypt from blowback over human rights violations.
Meanwhile former Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.) have begun lobbying for the Government of Alberta, part-owner of the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline that Biden vowed to block during the campaign. In a tell-tale sign that the Canadian province foresees more trouble from Democrats, the fee is for $30,000 per month starting in December in case of a Biden victory but only $25,000 in case of a second Trump term.
Several other former US officials also picked up foreign clients last month.
Former Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) is lobbying for the Dominican Republic on a $20,000-a-month contract with Gray Global Advisors.
And one of the State Department’s most senior ex-diplomats, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, is leading Arnold & Porter‘s $900,000 contract with Ecuador’s Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries.
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In second place, the United Nations Development Program hired PR giant Edelman for $1.275 million to help raise Panama’s profile in the United States, United Kingdom and European Union. The contract notably calls for the identification of international experts who can highlight Panama’s efforts to fight money laundering and support the country’s removal from international blacklists.
And in third place, former Israeli military intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe and his Montreal-based firm Dickens & Madson signed a $1 million contract with a Kyrgyz businessman on behalf of newly installed Acting President Sadyr Japarov. The contract calls on the firm to lobby governments in the United States and the Middle East for assistance to the struggling Central Asian republic.
In addition, foreign nations and companies disclosed almost $3.9 million in contract renewals in November, including two by the government of Qatar.