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Haiti lobby battles diaspora over support for embattled president; NY PR firm BLJ ends China, Pakistan contracts; Saudi lobby courts kingdom critic Cornyn: Tuesday’s Daily Digest

Haiti lobby battles diaspora over support for embattled president

President Jovenel Moise addresses the nation on Nov. 18, 2018.

The government of Haiti is locked in an intensifying lobbying fight against influential members of the Haitian-American diaspora as the Joe Biden administration and key members of Congress split on whether the Caribbean country’s president should step down.

Haiti’s ambassador to the United States Bocchit Edmond told Foreign Lobby Report on Tuesday that he has reached out to lawmakers who are demanding that President Jovenel Moise relinquish power, saying they are being influenced by constituents close to the opposition. He implored US policymakers to listen to his arguments before intervening in a constitutional fight that has caused a political crisis in the country.

“I thought it was the most important thing to do to send them information so they would not be misled by what the opposition, or sympathizers of the opposition, are sending to them,” Edmond said. “Because, unfortunately, it seems that they just decide on only one judgement.”

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Nigeria: Mercury Public Affairs has registered associate Nijat Artunkal as a foreign agent on its contract with British-Nigerian activist Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu is the self-described leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a group that advocates for independence for the predominantly Christian southeastern region of Nigeria.

Nigerian-Americans lobby for sanctions over police massacre


Canada: Quebec’s Delegate General in New York Catherine Loubier discussed cross-border trade issues with US officials in the second half of 2020, notably with staffers for Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and for Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). Loubier also communicated with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Western Hemisphere Ian Saunders; Acting Undersecretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Cordell Hull; and Department of Energy senior adviser for Canada and North America Kathleen Deutsch. Quebec Government offices across the United States received $5.45 million in the second half of the year from the province’s Ministry of International Relations and the Francophonie. Quebec priorities include cross-border trade, cooperation on fighting the COVID-19 epidemic and a cross-border transmission line to provide hydroelectricity to New England.

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China: New York public relations firm BLJ Worldwide terminated its representation of the Chinese Embassy in Washington on Sept. 28, according to a new lobbying filing. The firm had signed a $24,000-a-month contract with the embassy in June 2017 for “ongoing public relations services, including media monitoring, social media support, drafting and editing of statements and communications, media relations, media training, crisis management, and event support in support of the Embassy’s programming and activities.” The contract was signed by then-Global President Michael Holtzman, the president of Bellwether Strategies, who left BLJ in January 2020. Recent activities include media training sessions for diplomats and help crafting and placing op-eds. The termination leaves Squire Patton Boggs as the only registered foreign agent for the Chinese Embassy.

BLJ remains registered as a foreign agent for the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF). Account executive Marissa Hutton left the firm and the CUSEF account on Nov, 5.

Pakistan: New York public relations firm BLJ Worldwide terminated its representation of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington on Nov. 19, according to a new lobbying filing. The firm had signed a $50,000-a-month contract with the embassy in July 2019 to provide “strategic communications and public relations in order to reposition Pakistan as an able, willing and successful ally, and a strategic economic and trade partner to the United States.” The firm notably helped set up webinars “around issues of interest to Pakistan, including the current situation of Kashmir and tourism promotion.” The firm’s filing with the Department of Justice states that former BLJ President Amy Rosen and former Managing Director John Cpin, both of whom left the firm late last year, worked on the account even though neither were registered to do so under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The contract was signed by then-Global President Michael Holtzman, the president of Bellwether Strategies, who left BLJ in January 2020.

The termination leaves Linden Government Solutions as the only remaining firm working for the embassy. Meanwhile a politician who is a member of Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s ruling party recently hired a US activist to help with grassroots lobbying on Kashmir and other issues.

Pakistan steps up Kashmir lobbying for Biden era

Middle East

Egypt: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck continues to help the Egyptian Embassy in Washington make its case against Ethiopia’s new massive dam on the Nile River as the two countries press the Joe Biden administration to take their side in the dispute over the dam’s filling. The firm helped distribute embassy materials that highlight Egypt’s reliance on the Nile for 95% of its renewable water resources and calls Ethiopia an “unreliable negotiating partner” that started construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011 without consulting downstream countries, Sudan and Ethiopia. The materials include a summary of a Feb. 1 congressional briefing by the embassy that Foreign Lobby Report revealed on Jan. 29.

Brownstein Hyatt signed a $65,000-a-month contract with the embassy in November. Lobbyist on the account include 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.). Ethiopia for its part hired law firm Barnes & Thornburg in June 2020 for $130,000 for an initial three months as then-President Donald Trump was seen as siding with Cairo in the dispute.

Egypt lobbyist Ed Royce touts green cred in fight over Ethiopia’s Nile dam
Egypt assembles bipartisan powerhouse lobbying team for post-Trump era
Ethiopia hires US lobby firm amid rising tensions over Nile dam

Saudi Arabia: Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), a senior counsel at Hogan Lovells and chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, emailed the national security adviser for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) last week to highlight Saudi Ambassador Reema Bandar Al Saud‘s Jan. 21 virtual webinar with the World Affairs Council of Dallas / Fort Worth. Cornyn is one of the kingdom’s harshest Republican critics on Capitol Hill and ripped into Saudi lobbying against his 2015 bill to open up the kingdom to liability in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks during Avril Haines‘ confirmation hearing to be national director of intelligence last month. The ambassador’s speech is part of a multi-million-dollar Saudi outreach effort to the US heartland over the past couple of years.

“HRH Ambassador Reema was pleased to participate and share her thoughts on a diverse array of topics,” Coleman wrote in his email to Nic Adams, “including the vital geopolitical, economic, and security benefits of the US-Saudi partnership, Saudi Arabia and Texas’s long history of working together in the energy sector, the transformative changes occurring for women in the Kingdom as a result of Vision 2030, and even this year’s NFC East standings and her family’s love of the Dallas Cowboys.”

Saudis reach out directly to US states amid bipartisan blowback in Washington


The right-wing Daily Caller dug through the Chinese connections of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which CIA director nominee William Burns has led since 2015.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) unit at the Department of Justice has released its mandated report to Congress on foreign lobbying in the first half of 2019. Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2019, the unit documented:

  • 721 foreign principals represented by
  • 2,264 individual registrants working for
  • 441 separate lobbying and PR firms.

During the period lobbying and PR firms signed a total of 157 new agreements with foreign principals while terminating 92 agreements. Some 77 new firms registered under the act, while 26 terminated their registration.