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Ukraine president’s party hires US lobby shop; former Rubio staffer lobbies for Taiwan; Cayman Islands swaps Pillsbury for Hill & Knowlton: Wednesday’s Daily Digest

Ukraine president’s party hires US lobby shop

David Arakhamia, the leader of the Servant of the People faction in the Ukrainian parliament / Photo by paparazzza via Shutterstock

New York-based global strategic communications firm Finsbury Glover Hering has registered to lobby for Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s political party as the country normalizes ties with the Joe Biden administration and the new Congress following four years of rocky relations under President Donald Trump.

FGH Holdings — the firm born of last month’s merger between FinsburyThe Glover Park Group and Hering Schuppener — signed a $50,000-a-month contract on Feb. 2 through the end of the year with the Transatlantic Dialogue and Engagement Center, a new think tank in Kiev. The stated goal of the lobbying is to “advance Ukraine’s relations with the United States.” This is FGH’s first registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

While the contract was signed with the Transatlantic center, FGH’s lobbying disclosure describes it as the think tank arm of Ukraine’s Sluga Narodu (Servant of the People) party, named after the hit TV series that made Zelensky a celebrity. The party won 245 of 450 seats in parliament in the 2019 election.

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New in lobbying

Americas

Cayman Islands: Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman terminated its registration on behalf of the Cayman Islands Ministry of Financial Services, Commerce & Environment effective Dec. 31, 2020. Elizabeth Moeller, Craig Saperstein and Gregory Laughlin had been registered on the account. The firm had represented the British overseas territory since 2016 and reported $58,000 in payments in the first half of last year. News of the termination comes as the ministry hired Hill and Knowlton Strategies this month through the end of the year for a maximum of $300,000.

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Haiti: Lobbyists for Haiti have jumped on State Department spokesman Ned Price‘s statement last week discounting the opposition’s popularity after he noted “remarkable lack of popular response to calls for mass protest in recent weeks.” Mercury Public Affairs distributed the comments to multiple media outlets along with a statement from the Haitian Embassy vowing that President Jovenel Moise would stay in power until next year rather than step down immediately.

“The Government of Haiti agrees with the State Department’s assessment that the Haitian people are tired of endless ‘squabbling over power’,” the statement says. “The path forward is the ballot box. We are focused on holding election and urge all politicians to refocus their efforts toward the democratic process.” Don’t miss our recent interview with Haitian Ambassador Bocchit Edmond here.

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Asia

Marshall Islands: New York consultancy Guidepost Solutions ended its representation of the Marshall Islands on Jan. 31. CEO Julie Myers Wood, Senior Managing Director William Riley, Managing Director Allison Spagnolo and Senior Regional Director of Research Hannah Meyers had been registered on the account. The firm registered in 2018 as a subcontractor to Neema, an Israeli company hired by the Micronesian country to create a digital currency called the Sovereign (SOV) and make the Marshall Islands the first country to base their national currency on a cryptocurrency. The Marshallese legislature passed a law in 2018 making SOV the country’s new legal tender in lieu of the US dollar.

Taiwan: Republican lobbying firm Navigators Global has picked up the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Corporation as it first foreign sovereign client. The firm signed a three-month, $7,500-a-month agreement with DC International Advisory on Feb. 4 to provide “government relations counseling in seeking approval for a US Customs and Border Protection preclearance facility” at Taoyuan, Taiwan’s largest and busiest airport. DC International Advisory itself signed a six-month, $15,000-a-month contract with the airport in November.

Registered to lobby for Navigators are founding principal Cesar Conda, a former chief of staff to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and public relations consultant Ryan Berger. Lobbying filings show the firms contacted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the offices of Sens. Rubio, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) as well as the offices of Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) starting Jan. 27.

Europe

Ukraine: Lobbyists for Ukraine’s oil and gas industry are pushing the Joe Biden administration to sanction a second Russian ship that’s helping with the construction of a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Yorktown Solutions distributed ship tracking information indicating that the Chinese-made VENIE supply ship (formerly POSH Conquest) is involved with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In its last full day in office the Donald Trump administration sanctioned another Russian ship, the Fortuna. The Biden administration for its part is reviewing US policy toward the pipeline as construction resumed on Feb. 6. The Federation of Employers of the Oil and Gas Industry of Ukraine last month renewed its year-long, $960,000 contract with Yorktown through 2021.

“The Russian VENIE vessel is currently engaged in activities to support Russia’s Fortuna pipe-laying vessel as it lays pipe for Nord Stream 2 in violation of mandatory US sanctions laws,” wrote Yorktown President Daniel Vajdich, a former Republican aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and adviser to the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “Both the Fortuna and VENIE vessels, together with other firms that are currently engaged in Nord Stream 2 pipe-laying support and facilitation activities, must be sanctioned.”

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