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US-Bulgarian politician hires lobbying help; Turkey revamps lobbying team; Bahrain lobbies on Iran talks: Wednesday’s Daily Digest

US-Bulgarian politician hires lobbying help as party takes on prime minister

Oct. 9, 2016: Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borrisov (left) sits next to Tsvetan Tsvetanov during the launch of the 2016 presidential campaign in Sofia. Bulgaria / Anton Chalakov

A US-based co-leader of a new Bulgarian party has hired a US lobbying firm amid deepening US attention to political developments in the Balkan country.

Pavel Valnev, a Chicago-based Bulgarian-American entrepreneur and deputy leader of the center-right Republicans for Bulgaria party has hired Yorktown Solutions for $300,000 for six months. The contract was effective Dec. 9.

Republicans for Bulgaria is a new splinter party launched by former parliamentary leader and interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov. The center-right party is campaigning on a pro-western platform.

Valnev is the latest in a string of Bulgarian actors who have signed up to lobby the US government in recent months.

Several Bulgarian business owners are drawing attention to alleged corruption in the country. Meanwhile the law firm representing one of the targets of their ire, parliamentarian Delyan Peevski, just retained its own lobby firm earlier this month.

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Sudan (domestic): Los Angeles-based law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has hired Mercury Public Affairs to lobby for compensation for the victims of the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa. Lobbying on the account is Mercury partner Michael Soliman, a former state director to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Gibson Dunn itself registered to lobby on the issue in July. President Donald Trump agreed to remove Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism in October in exchange for the country setting aside $335 million in payments to American terrorism and their families. The US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacks by al-Qaida while Osama bin Laden was living in Sudan.


China: Ruder Finn has registered account supervisor Katie Caughman on its contract with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei‘s US subsidiary in Plano, Texas. New York-based Ruder Finn, which has co-headquarters in China, signed a $1.45 million contract with Huawei Technologies USA at the end of October for “strategic counsel, media relations, analyst relations, data insights, content strategy and policy communications.” The year-long contract was effective Nov. 1 and automatically renews for another year unless terminated by one of the parties.

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South Korea: The Korea International Trade Association in New York received $557,000 from its parent in Seoul during the six months through November to hold trade-related events and conduct research and legal consulting. The office notably co-hosted a Sept. 10 webinar on suggestions for Korean companies dealing with US export controls on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and a Nov. 24 webinar on “US Trade Policy after the 2020 Presidential Election,” which examined the “outlook for US trade remedies and policy after the 2020 Presidential Election & Covid-19 Pandemic.” During the period the trade association also paid its subcontractors and lawyers the following amounts:

  • Thomas Capital Partners: $71,000;
  • K&L Gates: $57,000; and
  • Arnold & Porter: $25,000.
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Serbia: Yorktown Solutions has registered former Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Democratic staffer Brittany Beaulieu on its account with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia. The firm led by former Republican SFRC staffer and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) presidential campaign adviser Daniel Vajdich renewed its contract with the chamber for another year in November for $400,000.

Serbia Chamber of Commerce reups with former Cruz adviser’s firm for $400,000

Ukraine: Yorktown Solutions has registered former Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Democratic staffer Brittany Beaulieu on its account with the Ukrainian energy industry. The firm led by former Republican SFRC staffer and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) presidential campaign adviser Daniel Vajdich signed a $960,000 contract for 2020 in January with the Federation of Employers of the Oil and Gas Industry to lobby against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to western Europe. Ukraine’s natural gas industry is dominated by national oil and gas company Naftogaz, which Yorktown previously lobbied for through 2018.

Middle East

Bahrain: The Embassy of Bahrain is lobbying for a seat at the table in any efforts by the incoming Joe Biden administration to restart nuclear talks with Iran following the Donald Trump administration’s exit from the 2015 nuclear deal. “The Kingdom of Bahrain believes that the Biden administration can succeed in changing Iran’s behavior through comprehensive actions that involve the entire Gulf region,” the embassy said in a position statement disseminated by BGR Government Affairs. Here are the talking points from the embassy :

  • Gulf States, including Israel, should be included in the negotiations because they are “directly threatened by the Iranian regime, and their cooperation is crucial to countering the Iranian threat”;
  • Instead of the 2015 deal’s temporary restrictions on enriched uranium- and plutonium-production, a new deal should have Iran “agree to forgo enrichment and reprocessing in exchange for U.S. nuclear know-how, materials, and equipment”;
  • Ballistic missile testing should be addressed in any future agreement;
  • A new deal should restrict Iranian small arms manufacturing and exports;
  • Iran should stop sponsoring proxy groups in the region;
  • A new deal should address Iranian cyber-attacks and create “proper de-escalation channels [to] ensure cyber capabilities do not intensify”;
  • To ensure compliance, international inspections inside Iran should be “immediately available” rather than allowing for “an extended period of time for preparation “;
  • There should be “clearly defined consequences for infractions.”

The embassy adds that while Bahrain supported the original nuclear deal, it also believes that Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” has been effective in reducing Iran’s “malign activities and threats” in the region. The push comes as Politico reports that Bahraini Ambassador Abdullah Bin Mohammad Bin Rashed Al Khalifa, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba participated in a “private, off-the-record” discussion with members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Monday.

Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan): The Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States participated in a virtual conference of the US Chamber of Commerce’s US-lraq Business Council on “Post COVID-19 Economic Priorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq” on Nov. 23 and 24. US Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes and KRG President Masrour Barzani gave introductory keynote remarks. Several US officials took part including US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller, US Consul General in Erbil Robert Waller; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq Affairs David Copley; and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood.

Turkey: The Embassy of Turkey is revamping its lobbying operations following fallout from the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Greenberg Traurig terminated its contract with the embassy on Oct. 29 amid pushback from Armenian-American activists upset about Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in the conflict with Armenia. Now former Greenberg subcontractor Capitol Counsel has disclosed a new contract signed Oct. 31 directly with the Turkish government. The contract is for about $125,000 through the end of 2020 and was signed by Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kilic and Capitol Counsel partner Towner French.

The contract also calls on Capitol Counsel to pick up Greenberg’s obligations to former subcontractor LB International Solutions and pay the firm led by Lydia Borland $48,000 through the end of the year. A third former Greenberg Traurig subcontractor, Venable, terminated its relationship with Turkey on Nov. 5. Capitol Counsel has also picked up Greenberg Traurig’s work for Turkish Aerospace Industries, which is lobbying Congress to unblock attack helicopter sales to Pakistan.

Turkish defense company revamps lobbying as US sanctions loom

Turkey: Turkey’s geopolitical alliances are also playing out in the humanitarian sector. The World Turkish Business Council last week organized a webinar on “grassroots efforts to provide medical care and equipment to communities in need” to “shine the spotlight on frontline medical care professionals from the Muslim American community.” Participants included Samia Piracha, the DC Chapter President of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani-descent in North America; Esam Omeish, a Virginia surgeon and president of the Libyan American Alliance; and Sine Akten, the vice president of the Turkish American Medical Association. Pakistan is a close Turkish ally, while Omeish’s group is close to the Turkey-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli. The invitation to the webinar was distributed by Mercury Public Affairs on behalf of the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK).

Mercury also distributed a statement from TAIK criticizing the State Department’s Dec. 14 sanctions on the Turkish defense sector. “This disappointing decision by the State Department takes the bilateral relationship in the wrong direction,” said TAIK Chairman Mehmet Ali Yalcindag. “What’s worse is that it puts thousands of American jobs at risk. Even amid deep differences, rather than inflaming tensions, the United States would be better served by finding ways to more closely cooperate with a decades-long ally.”

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Turkish defense company revamps lobbying as US sanctions loom

United Arab Emirates: The UAE Mission to the UN has extended its $70,000-per-month contract with the Glover Park Group for another three months, through March 2021. The firm has represented the UAE mission since September 2019.