- Saudis reach out directly to US states amid bipartisan blowback in Washington
- Calgary pipeline co. lobbies on natural gas exports
- Armenia embassy extends Nagorno-Karabakh PR defense
- Taiwan airport lobbies for preclearance facility
- EU looks to revamp US PR campaign after Biden win
- Russia state broadcaster signs $2 million deal to air Sputnik in Washington
Saudis reach out directly to US states amid bipartisan blowback in Washington
Saudi Arabia is reaching out directly to a growing number of US states in a bid to deepen political and economic ties across the country amid lingering bipartisan criticism in Washington.
This past week two new PR professionals registered as foreign agents of the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington, expanding the Saudi influence campaign to Wisconsin and Arizona. This brings to nine the number of states where the embassy has established a PR foothold over the past year, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of Department of Justice lobbying records.
The two new registrants are part of an expanding network of individuals and small firms working as subcontractors or consultants for the Iowa-based Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (LS2 Group), which the Saudi embassy hired in November 2019 for $126,500 per month. The contract calls on the company to provide media outreach and engagement efforts “across select media markets throughout the US” along with “local community engagement.”
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New lobbying filings
Canada: The Pembina Pipeline Corp. of Calgary has hired GovBiz Advantage, Inc. of Maryland to lobby on “issues associated with pipeline construction and natural gas export.” Lobbying on the account is Duane Gibson, a former Republican counsel on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
Colombia: Embattled former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has extended his $40,000-a-month contract with Washington public relations and lobbying firm DCI Group for another month, through the end of the year. The firm is helping the former president battle accusations of ties to right-win paramilitary groups with a public relations attacking one of his chief critics, Colombian senator Ivan Cepeda. Joining DCI on the account is the Liberty International Group of former US Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.).
|Colombia’s Uribe hires GOP firm amid mass killing probe|
|Former Florida Rep. Connie Mack registers as lobbyist for Colombia’s Uribe|
Armenia: The Embassy of Armenia in Washington has extended its public relations contract with Copper Strategies of Washington for another four months from Dec. 1 through March, for a total of $24,000. The firm is providing media outreach, advice on social media engagement and communications counsel with regard to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh with the goal of “advancing the American understanding of the conflict, and support its peaceful resolution.” Copper Strategies was founded by Philip Simon Walotsky Jr., a Democratic fundraiser and partner of the Truman National Security Project, a left-leaning foreign policy and leadership development organization in Washington. The firm began working for the embassy in late October.
|Armenia hires PR firm as conflict with Azerbaijan lingers|
|Warring Caucasus parties take their fight to Washington|
Malaysia (Jho Low): Wells Haslem Mayhew Strategic Public Affairs of Australia has stopped representing fugitive financier Jho Low as of Dec. 1. The firm registered in April as a subcontractor to Kobre and Kim, a New York-based international law firm representing Low. The termination leaves Levick Strategic Communications as the only PR firm working for Kobre and Kim on the account. Reputation advisory firm Schillings International is also registered as a foreign agent for Low. Low is accused of embezzling $4.5 billion from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
|Revealed: Kuwaiti royal, Thai tycoon underwrote 1MDB fugitive’s $3.4 million influence campaign|
Malaysia: The Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board in Los Angeles received $400,000 from the country’s ministry of tourism on efforts to promote travel to the country during the six months through October.
Taiwan: The Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Corporation has hired DC International Advisory for $15,000 per month to seek approval for a US Customs and Border Protection preclearance facility at Taiwan’s largest and busiest airport. The contract was effective Nov. 1 and last six months. CEO Stephen Yates is the only registered agent on the account. He plans to “engage in lobbying efforts directed at the executive and legislative branches of government” while also “potentially seeking the support of other parties … such as travel and tourism-related organizations in the United States.”
European Union: The EU Delegation to the United States has signed a $17,200 contract with Washington public relations firm S-3 Group to audit its digital properties and recommend ways to optimize them “to reach new audiences and better engage current ones.” The firm will also create a “detailed strategy and plan to execute key EU policy.” The contract is dated Nov. 25. Delivery of the services is due within six months. The contract comes as the EU is looking to the incoming Joe Biden administration to rebuild ties that have frayed under President Donald Trump. Last month the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, welcomed Biden’s election and said he welcomed “the chance to work once again with a US president who doesn’t consider us a foe”.
Russia: Russia’s state-run Rossiya Segodnya news agency has signed a $1.98 million contract with Florida-based RM Broadcasting to carry its Sputnik radio programming on WZHF 1390 AM in the Washington area for the next three years. The contract runs from Dec. 1, 2020 through Nov. 30, 2023. RM’s previous three-year contract was for $2.035 million. RM Broadcasting was required to register as a foreign agent in 2019 after losing its case against the Department of Justice in the first FARA civil enforcement action since 1991.
|Russian news outlet inks $5.2 million deal with DC production company|
|Al Jazeera builds case against order to register as foreign agent|
Morocco: St. Louis-based PR firm Fleishman-Hillard is behind an online campaign and web site, www.standwithusfarmers.com, that warns that the US agricultural sector will feel the pinch if the US imposes tariffs on Moroccan imports of phosphates, a key ingredient in fertilizer. The campaign targets US farm-state lawmakers and is part of a massive lobbying and public relations effort by Moroccan phosphate mining giant OCP. The company is Morocco’s largest employer and is 94 % owned by the government. It is fighting a complaint from Tampa-based rival the Mosaic Company about unfair subsidies. The US Commerce Department issued a preliminary determination to impose countervailing duties last month but OCP is challenging it.
Separately, London-based Thomas Mitchell Forsythe, a consultant for CCO Communications of Minnesota, terminated his registration as a foreign agent on CCO’s account with OCP North America on Dec. 9
|Morocco lobbyists target farm-state senators in fight over fertilizer tariffs|
|Trump’s move on Western Sahara follows years-long lobbying push by Morocco|
United Arab Emirates: Foreign Lobby Report is making waves. UAE lobbying firm American Defense International distributed our Dec. 8 scoop on Qatar lobbying Congress about the F-35 jet sale to its Gulf rival to policymakers and other interested parties, according to a new lobbying filing.