Latest filings

Pakistan steps up Kashmir lobbying for Biden era; Taiwan hires Meeks aide; Venezuela oil company reveals $20 million US influence campaign: Thursday’s Daily Digest

Pakistan steps up Kashmir lobbying for Biden era

A Pakistani politician from Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party has hired a longtime Kashmiri rights advocate as the country looks to the new Joe Biden administration to put pressure on its rival India.

Bilal Ahmed Ghaffar, a member of the provincial assembly of Sindh, has signed two year-long contracts worth a total of $7,000 a month with Chinar Consulting and Kashmir Action Network. Both firms were founded last October by Washington-based activist Carin Jodha Fischer.

The Chinar contract calls on Fischer to conduct government, media and public relations involving “working on coalition funding, counterterrorism, foreign policy, and political forecasting initiatives.” Kashmir Action Network’s role meanwhile will focus on “grassroots lobbying to raise awareness about the complete absence of civil and democratic rights, the shrinking political rights, and the absolute crushing of the will and determination of the Kashmiri people.”

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Venezuela oil company reveals $20 million US influence campaign

The US subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil and gas company has disclosed a years-old US influence campaign to the Department of Justice as Caracas seeks a fresh start with the Joe Biden administration.

New York-based PDV USA spent more than $20 million on lobbying, public relations and legal representation between 2015 and 2018 to advance the interests of its parent company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), according to a retroactive registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). PDV USA said it received $89 million in funding from PDVSA during the period.

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New lobbying filings

Africa

Ghana/Canada: A Canadian mining company is lining up former US ambassadors as it battles Ghanaian government claims against one of its gold mines. New York energy research and consulting firm Horizon Client Access has signed a two-month, $25,000-a-month contract with Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corporation for “strategic advisory services” in support of efforts “manage and mitigate issues resulting from the operational audit of the Chirano
gold mine conducted by the Ghanaian Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.” Horizon is expected to engage with US, Canadian and Ghanaian officials, officials of multi-lateral organizations and “relevant influential members of civil society (such as an industry associations)” in view of withdrawing the Ghanaian government’s claims against the company and having a “credible, mutually acceptable and independent third-party complete a review the audit findings and the Company’s objections to these findings.” Kinross owns 90 % of the Chirano gold mine, which started production in 2005, with the Ghanaian government owning the rest.

Horizon’s lobbying disclosure indicates the firm already received $118,000 late last year from Kinross for analytical reports. Horizon in turn paid $7,850 to Mark Boulware, a former US ambassador to Mauritania, Chad and Liberia under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The disclosure comes as former US ambassador to Ghana Robert Porter Jackson has separately registered as a foreign agent for Kinross. Jackson is to be paid $3,500 per month to advocate with Ghanaian officials in his role as a consultant for Horizon Client Access. 

Asia

China (Huawei): ADLAB has formally registered delivery director Brian McLane Breach and client partner Nicholas Anthony Lawhead on its account with the US subsidiary of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

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Taiwan: Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington has hired a former senior adviser to new House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.). Mike McKay and his Empire Consulting Group are to be paid $90,000 for the six months from Jan. 16 through July 15 to represent the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO). McKay is registered to lobby on the account along with consultant Eulice Brandon Garrett, a former chief of staff to Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.). The firm will lobby the “US Congress and federal departments and agencies; analyze political developments including legislative and executive branch actions and decisions; and advise TECRO on such developments including suggestions for improving relations between Taiwan and the US.”

Taiwan is the latest foreign principal to pick up a former Meeks aide following Saudi Arabia and India. The contract comes as Taiwan looks to consolidate gains made under the Donald Trump administration, which included arms sales, visits by high-ranking officials and the removal of restrictions on how diplomats and other US officials interact with the island nation.

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Thailand: The Tourism Authority in Thailand has registered Digital Marketing Executive Soothawee Rermruk to conduct marketing for the organization. Rermruk, who was born in Thailand and is based in New York City, will plan and manage marketing campaigns for the organization’s various websites and social media accounts.

Middle East

Israel: Berger Hirschberg Strategies has registered founder Stephanie Berger and Vice President Josh Arker on its $15,000 contract with Steve Rabinowitz to fundraise for the Israeli government-backed nonprofit The Shalom Corps. The month-long contract began Jan. 25. The Shalom Corps has hired Rabinowitz’s Bluelight Strategies to raise money and awareness for the nonprofit’s initiative to inoculate all 320,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide with the COVID-19 vaccine. The plan announced by Diaspora Minister and Knesset member Omer Yankelovitch has caused controversy in Israel.

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Syria: The Washington office of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) has extended its contract with Ayal Frank and his firm AF International for another six months. Frank is to be paid $7,500 per month, up from $6,000 per month previously. The SDC hired Frank in July 2020 to lobby Congress on sanctions and other issues that impact the northern region of Syria that the SDC controls.

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