Latest filings

Ex-Treasury officials end Nigeria sanctions push; Afghan group adds fourth lobbying firm; Bermuda invites Black Caucus members to ruling party’s convention: Wednesday’s Daily Digest

New lobbying filings

Africa

Nigeria: DiRoma Eck & Co., the new firm started by former deputy assistant Treasury secretaries for legislative affairs Michael DiRoma and Andrew Eck, terminated their lobbying for ​Von Batten-Montague-York on behalf of Nigerian-American advocacy group The October 20th, 2020 Project on Nov. 21. The firm registered on Oct. 21 to press for sanctions against Nigerian officials after security forces shot and killed dozens of people protesting police brutality in Lagos last fall. The firm reported less than the $5,000 reporting threshold in lobbying revenues.

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Americas

Bermuda: Lobbyists for the government of Bermuda have invited leading Black lawmakers to keynote this month’s virtual conference of Premier David Burt‘s ruling Progressive Labour Party. TheGROUP DC reached out to the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.), as well as the three co-chairs of the Congressional Caribbean Caucus: Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.). “The COVID-19 Pandemic has hit many in our membership especially hard,” Burt wrote in separate letters to the four Congressional Black Caucus members distributed by TheGROUP DC. “Through a keynote address we are looking to inspire them, help them see past this moment in time to a brighter future. We know that economic times don’t last but tough people do. It is our intention to provide our members with ways to improve their economic position and see hope for the future.” Plaskett’s office told Foreign Lobby Report she planned to participate.

TheGROUP DC has represented Bermuda for $20,00 per month since November 2017. The firm also represents the Caribbean nations of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Registered on all three accounts are managing partner Arthur Collins, a senior political strategist for Barack Obama‘s 2008 campaign; partner Darrel Thompson, a former deputy chief of staff for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.); and partner Sudafi Henry, a former director of legislative affairs for then-Vice President Joe Biden. The firm has notably been lobbying to get the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) to lower its COVID risk rating for Bermuda, which has impacted US travel to the country.

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Canada: AR Textiles Ltd., a North Carolina subsidiary of Ontario’s AR International Ltd., has hired Gilliland & McKinney International Counsellors to lobby on “eligibility of expenditures under the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills program.” Firm partner John Gilliland, a former international trade counsel on the Senate Finance Committee and legislative assistant to former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), is the only registered lobbyist on the account. The registration was effective Nov. 20.

Asia

Afghanistan: Veteran Republican operative Joe Pounder‘s Bullpen Strategy Group is the latest firm to sign up as a foreign agent for a US nonprofit whose board members include several members of the Afghan parliament. The firm is to paid $25,000 per month to provide “strategic communications consulting and media monitoring” for the Afghanistan-US Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council. Issues of concern include bilateral relations and “US support for peace, democracy, national security, human rights, anti-corruption, and economic development in Afghanistan” Bullpen’s contract runs from Dec. 21, 2020, through March 31, 2021. Pounder co-founded the Republican-aligned America Rising PAC and was a senior adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Registered on the account are Managing Director Christian Hertenstein and Joseph Warren Perticone.

The council is funded by Afghan businessman Mohammad Gul Raoufi and headed by executive director Martin Rahmani in Washington. Three Afghan lawmakers sit on its board of advisers: Mir Haider AfzalyNaheed Farid and Haji Ajmal Rahmani. Its lobbying registration with the Department of Justice describes its mission as working to “encourage the U.S. to adopt legislation, military assistance, and foreign policy that will promote Afghan national security and strong US-Afghanistan strategic ties, including anti-terrorism efforts.”

Three others firms have also registered as foreign agents for the council over the past year:

  • Former Republican Capitol Hill aide Matthew Wise‘s Wise Capital Strategy;
  • Wise subcontractor Jake Perry + Partners, headed by a former top adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.); and
  • Wise subcontractor Duncap Strategies, a Mississippi firm led by the former director of communications of that state’s Republican Party, Jennifer Dunagin.

Also registered as foreign agents working directly for the nonprofit are Andrew Clausnitzer, a managing partner with Victory Six Advisors in Washington, and adviser Jeffrey Richard Mallory. Rahmani, the council’s director, is a managing partner at Victory Six Advisors.

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Azerbaijan: BGR Government Affairs reported $240,000 in fees and $218,000 in expenses from the Embassy of Azerbaijan in the six months through November. During the period lobbyists for the firm spoke by phone with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Reps. David Price (D-N.C.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) amid congressional pushback against the country’s conflict with Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. BGR has represented the embassy since 2017.

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China: Mercury Public Affairs has registered Vice President Ekaterina Myagkova on its account with JinkoSolar (US), the San Francisco-based US subsidiary of the world’s biggest solar panel manufacturer.

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Hong Kong: Akin Gump has registered partner Charles W. Johnson IV on its $429,300-a-year account with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

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India: BGR Government Affairs disclosed a Nov. 18 meeting with Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs panel on Asia, on behalf of the Embassy of India. The firm received $350,000 from the embassy during the period. BGR has represented the embassy since 2005 and recently renewed its contract through March 2021.

Marshall Islands: Akin Gump senior policy adviser Denise Desiderio has registered as a foreign agent for the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). She’ll be lobbying on renegotiation of the expiring Compact of Free Association with the US and related legislation on national security, funding and nuclear legacy issues.

Separately, Akin Gump subcontractor the Oliver Group reported $67,500 in payments from the firm in the six months through November for work on behalf of the RMI. The firm’s sole registered agent on the account, Jeffrey Farrow, disclosed calls, meetings and email communications with multiple US officials during the period regarding the compact negotiations, education grants, climate change and other matters. Contacts include:

  • Interior Department: Office of Insular Affairs senior adviser Howard Hill; RMI Desk Officer Joseph McDermott; Honolulu field office lead Stephen Savage;
  • State Department: Marshall Islands desk officer Meghan Kleinsteiber;
  • Education Department: Tiffany Forrester and Lisa Harris;
  • House Committee on Natural Resources / Insular Affairs: Staff director Brian Modeste and counsel Margarita Varela Rosa; and
  • Staff for Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii).
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Pakistan: Linden Government Solutions of Houston terminated two of its registered agents for the Embassy of Pakistan during the six months through November, leaving only two people on the account. Linden consultant Stuart Jolly, a former campaign aide to Donald Trump, stopped lobbying for Linden on Oct. 16 while Brian Ettinger stopped lobbying for Pakistan on Nov. 9 but is still acting as general counsel for the firm. Linden president Stephen Payne and former executive vice president Joseph Fleming, now a consultant with the firm, remain on the account.

During the period the firm’s lobbyists met with Mission Director Julie Koenen and other US Agency for International Development (USAID) officials in Pakistan to discuss liquified natural gas projects and electrification as well as with US Charge d’Affaires Angela Aggeler. They also communicated with the office of Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich; State Department Pakistan Affairs Director Neil Hop; Principal Assistant Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson; and Wells Griffith, the managing director and senior adviser for energy at the US International Finance Corporation (DFC).

The embassy signed an unusual pro bono contract with Linden in April 2020 that allows the firm to seek payment from the diaspora community. Linden has reported no revenues from the contract to date but Fleming told Foreign Lobby Report that the firm views Pakistan as a “prestige client” well worth keeping on. He added that fundraising from the diaspora may pick up once the COVID epidemic passes.

Europe

Poland: BGR Government Affairs stopped representing Minister of National Defense Mariusz Blaszczak on Sept. 15. The firm disclosed $245,000 in payments from the ministry for the six months through November. The firm signed a $70,000 per month contract with the ministry in February 2019.

Ukraine: President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s US envoy Andrew Mac held multiple calls with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent, US Charge d’Affaires ad interim Kristina Kvien and Nicholas Kazvini-Gore, legislative assistant to Congressional Ukraine Caucus co-chairwoman Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), during the six months through November to discuss anti-corruption reforms and other issues. Mac, who also heads the Washington office of Ukrainian law firm Asters, is not compensated for his work on behalf of Zelensky.

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Middle East

Iraq (Kurdistan Regional Government): BGR Government Affairs disclosed a June 29 teleconference with Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and a Sept. 2 phone call with on behalf of US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Managing Director Allison Minor on behalf of the KRG. The firm did not receive any payments from the KRG during the six months through November. BGR has represented the KRG since 2007.

Qatar: Former US Ambassador to Qatar Charles Untermeyer disclosed $90,000 in fees from the Embassy of Qatar in the six months through November to serve as an adviser in Texas. Untermeyer made public appearances in connection with projects of the Qatar Harvey Fund, established to provide long-term assistance to people in southeast Texas after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and contacted El Paso Mayor Dee Margo about the city’s needs during the Covid-19 emergency.

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