Latest filings

Myanmar junta hires Israeli intelligence veteran for international lobbying campaign; China’s Ant Group hires Akin Gump Democrats; Keystone pipeline builder hires ex-Biden aide: Friday’s Daily Digest

Myanmar junta hires Israeli intelligence veteran for international lobbying campaign

Burmese Gen. Mya Tun Oo attends negotiations with Russian military officials in Moscow on Aug. 17, 2020 / Photo by Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

Myanmar’s junta has hired a former Israeli intelligence official to lobby US and other government officials as the country faces an international backlash over last month’s military coup, Foreign Lobby Report has learned.

Defense Minister Mya Tun Oo retained Ari Ben-Menashe and his Montreal-based Dickens & Madson Canada to “assist in explaining the real situation in the country,” according to a consultancy agreement dated Thursday. The firm is tasked with lobbying Congress and the Joe Biden administration as well as the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Russia in addition to the United Nations, the African Union and other international organizations and NGOs.

The firm is expected to file a formal lobbying contract with the US Department of Justice early next week, Ben-Menashe said in a telephone interview Friday morning from Myanmar, where he’s wrapping up his second trip in the past few weeks. He said the contract was for a “big amount” but declined to get into specifics.

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Angola: Squire Patton Boggs has expanded the scope of its work for the office of Angolan President Joao Lourenco to include advising the government on “strategic communications.” The firm is to be paid $600,000 for extra work conducted between Feb. 18 and June 17, on top of its existing $208,000 per month contract. The firm has been registered as a foreign agent helping Angola improve its financial system and attract trade and investment since June 2019.


Bermuda: Chicago public relations firm Kivvit has extended its contract with Bermuda Business Development Agency through March. The firm will notably run a $5,000-a-month digital ad campaign to raise the BDA’s visibility with “insurance/reinsurance; asset managers plus private equity; hedgefund and
family offices; fintech/digital assets: and the legal community.” The firm also registered public affairs principal Mackenzie Shutler as an agent on the account. Kivvit has worked for the agency since 2009.

Canada (Saskatchewan): The province of Saskatchewan has renewed its contract with Nelson Mullins for another year, from April 1 through March 2022. The firm is to be paid $95,000 per quarter, the same as before. Nelson Mullins has represented the province since 2009 and notably lobbies on rare earth minerals.

Lobbyists for Canada’s Saskatchewan join inter-agency call on critical minerals

Canada (Keystone XL): The Canadian company building the Keystone XL pipeline continues to hire lobbyists close to the Joe Biden administration. TransCanada Pipelines, an affiliate of TC Energy in Calgary, has hired Christopher Putala and his firm Putala Strategies to lobby on “matters concerning energy policy, including pipelines, storage facilities, and power generation origination.” The registration was effective Jan. 20, the day of President Biden’s inauguration. Putala served as a senior aide to the Senate Judiciary Committee under Biden’s chairmanship in the 1990s. Biden rescinded the Donald Trump administration’s permit for the pipeline on his first day in office.

News of Putala’s registration comes days after TC Energy disclosed hiring Ricchetti Incorporated, a firm founded by lobbyist Jeff Ricchetti and his brother Steve Ricchetti, who is now Biden’s White House counselor. TC Energy previously retained the services of State Federal Strategies and the Peter Damon Group last year, while the province of Alberta, a part-owner of the pipeline, has hired three firms in recent months: JDA Frontline Partners, Crestview Strategy, Crossroads Strategies. Former Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.) are registered to lobby on the Crestview account.

Canada’s Alberta hires third firm amid Keystone pipeline feud

Mexico: Mexico’s retirement fund administrators’ association, the Asociacion Mexicana de Administradoras de Fondos Para El Retiro, has hired McLarty Inbound to “advise on Mexican pension reform changes and US-Mexico relations.” Former Mexican Ambassador to China Jorge Guajardo, a senior director at the firm, is registered to lobby on the account.


China: Jack Ma‘s Ant Group has hired Akin Gump to lobby on President Donald Trump‘s Jan. 5 order banning Chinese software applications including the Chinese financial technology giant’s Alipay payment platform. The registration was effective Jan. 27 and covers “US regulatory issues regarding Ant Group and its subsidiaries such as Alipay US, including under Executive Order 13971.” The firm has registered four partners with deep Democratic ties to lobby on the account: Veteran campaigner Charlie Johnson, the hiring partner for the firm’s Washington office; Ed Pagano, a former Senate liaison for President Barack Obama; Hal Shapiro, former senior White House adviser for international economic affairs under President Bill Clinton; and Scott Parven.

This is Ant’s first lobbying registration. The Alibaba Group, which owns a third of the company, for its part has hired four lobbying firms — Greenberg Traurig (including former Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.; Mercury Public Affairs; the Duberstein Group; Sidley Austin; Baker & Hostetler; and Story Partners. Alibaba also spent more than $3 million in in-house lobbying last year.

India: Cornerstone Government Affairs has belatedly disclosed that it had renewed its contract with the Indian Embassy in Washington from September 2020 through February 2021. The contract is for $40,000 per month, as previously. Cornerstone has represented the embassy since December 2019.

South Korea: Cornerstone Government Affairs has renewed its contract with the South Korean Embassy in Washington for the first half of 2021. The contract is for $140,000 (around $23,500 per month), the same as previously. Cornerstone has represented the embassy since 2017.

Taiwan: Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington has renewed its lobbying contract with Watkins & Eager for another six months, from mid-January through mid-July. The contract is for $18,000 per month, the same as previously. The firm has represented the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) since January 2020. Former Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) is the only registered agent on the account.


France: French insurance and financial services company AXA has hired Chicago-based public relations firm Edelman to “increase the visibility of Client and its leadership among key established stakeholder groups” in the United States. The $150,000 contract runs from Jan. 21 through June 30. Vice President Rachel Louise Millard, General Manager Sean Neary, senior account executives Julia Sofo and Weston Yates Loyd are registered on the account.


Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have renewed a criminal investigation into whether President Donald Trump‘s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani broke lobbying laws, the Associated Press reports.