Latest filings

Mongolian politician gets lobbying help in mining corruption probe; Qatar picks up former lawmakers Vitter, Garcia; ex-Veterans Affairs chief lobbies for Egypt: Monday’s Daily Digest

Mongolian politician gets lobbying help in mining corruption probe

Then-Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg of Mongolia meets with PM Narendra Modi of India in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on May 17, 2015 / India Press Information Bureau

A law firm representing a former Mongolian official caught up in an investigation into alleged corrupt mining payments connected to one of the world’s largest copper and gold deposits is launching an international pressure campaign to get the charges dropped.

Amsterdam & Partners has defended former prime minister Chimed Saikhanbileg for the past year against what the firm calls a “series of fabricated criminal charges aimed at weakening democratic opposition in the country and seizing control over the country’s mineral wealth.” Now the firm, which is based in Washington and London, has also registered as a foreign agent for Saikhanbileg as it prepares to advocate on his behalf with policymakers and the media in the United States and abroad.

In addition to its pre-existing legal representation, the firm will now offer pro bono services that aim to influence US policy “by highlighting the declining state of the rule of law and the increasing incidents of human rights abuses in Mongolia under the current government,” Amsterdam said in its lobbying filing with the US Department of Justice.

Read the story here.


Guest column: A perfect storm for foreign lobbying reform?

In his first guest column for Foreign Lobby Report, Ben Freeman of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative writes that new leadership in Washington and the dissipating partisan furor over former President Donald Trump‘s foreign entanglements could unlock long-delayed reforms to the 1938 statute that regulates the disclosure of foreign influence operations.

Read the column here.


New lobbying filings

Africa

Cameroon: Squire Patton Boggs terminated its representation of the government of Cameroon on Dec. 31. The firm had been lobbying for the West African country since August 2004. The latest contract, dating to 2018, was for $100,00 per quarter. Registered on the account were former US Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, a partner at the firm; partner Robert Kapla, who heads the firm’s public policy practice; and public policy adviser Stacy Swanson.

Americas

Bermuda: The Bermuda Tourism Authority in New York received $11.25 million from the government of Bermuda in the second half of the year and spent $8.2 million to promote travel to the country, including $6.8 million in direct sales and marketing. During the first half of the year the authority spent $5.9 million.

Asia

Malaysia: The Malaysian Investment Development Authority office in Chicago spent about $143,000 in the second half of last year to promote foreign investment in the country. This is a decrease from spending in the the first half, which was about $177,000.

South Korea: The Livingston Group has begun lobbying the new Congress on behalf of the San Francisco Zion Church, a US branch of a South Korean church linked to one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the East Asian country. The firm sent letters to Congress members asking that they “prioritize religious liberty in the 177th Congress” and shared a certificate of appreciation from the American Red Cross recognizing its help with blood drives. Livingston signed an $8,500-per-month contract with the church in August to inform US officials about what it calls the “persecution and undue treatment” of its parent church, Shincheonji Church of Jesus, and the arrest of its leader, Lee Man-hee.

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Taiwan: The government-sponsored Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) paid about $297,000 in the second half of 2020 to Far East Trade Services to promote trade between Taiwan and the US.

Europe

Germany: The New York-based German National Tourist Office spent $1.3 million during the last six months in marketing projects for the German National Tourist Board firm in Frankfurt to promote travel to the European country.

Middle East

Egypt: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has registered two new lobbyists on its account with the Embassy of Egypt. Robert Nicholson, a former chairman to the Republican National Committee and secretary of Veterans Affairs under President George Bush, is joining the team along with Zachary Pfister, a former aide to former Reps. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) and Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) and one of the firm’s chief liaisons to House Democrats. Both were already registered to lobby for Saudi Arabia.

The two are part of a growing team that includes former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), former Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Nadeam Elshami, a former chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Brownstein signed a year-long, $65,000-per-month contract with Egyptian Ambassador to the US Motaz Zahran in November right after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump, who was close to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Separately, Brownstein distributed press materials from the Egyptian Embassy that highlight Sisi’s purported efforts to promote religious freedom and diversity in the country. The material lists religious freedom legislation, initiatives and educational reforms the country has undertaken.

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Qatar: Mercury Public Affairs registered four new lobbyists to its account with the Embassy of Qatar, including former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), a partner in Mercury’s Washington office, and former Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), who is a co-chairman of the firm based in Miami. Also signing on are partner Morris Reid and Christopher Murphy, a director in Mercury’s Washington office. Mercury signed a $30,000-per-month contract with the embassy in late 2019. The new registrations come as Qatar continues to challenge its Arab Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on a host of policies in Washington despite last month’s diplomatic breakthrough.

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CAUGHT OUR EYE

The Department of Justice has named a new chief for its foreign influence unit, law.com reports. Former prosecutor and Goodwin Procter associate Jennifer Kennedy Gellie succeeds Brandon Van Grack as head of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) unit. Gellie has been with the National Security Division since 2016.

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