New in Lobbying, Top contracts

Turkey’s bid to get back in F-35 program tops $4 million in new foreign lobbying for February

Lobbying and public relations firms disclosed $4 million in new business with foreign actors last month and another $4 million in contract renewals, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings with the US Department of Justice.

That’s up from less than $1 million in new lobbying disclosed in January and marks the biggest spend since November.

Arnold & Porter‘s $750,000 contract to help Turkey rejoin the international program building the F-35 fighter jet dominated new lobbying. The Washington law firm is officially representing Ankara-based SSTEK Savunma Sanayi Teknolojiler (Defense Industry Technologies), a wholly owned by the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), the government office that manages Turkey’s defense industry.

Arnold & Porter will “advise on a strategy for the SSB and Turkish contractors to remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program, taking into consideration and addressing the complex geopolitical and commercial factors at play,” the firm’s lobbying filing states. The Donald Trump administration kicked Turkey out of the program and sanctioned the SSB over the country’s purchase of Russian weapons.

In second place is Finsbury Glover Hering‘s $600,000 contract to represent Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s political party as the country seems to put bilateral ties on more stable footing following four rocky years under President Trump. Meanwhile Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Urusky has retained his own lobbying shop ahead of his visit to the United States next week, Foreign Lobby Report‘s Mikayla Easley reports.

Meanwhile Doha continues to ramp up its lobbying, with the Qatari embassy in Washington hiring two firms last month for a total of four new hires since President Joe Biden took office. Joining the two dozen firms on Qatar’s payroll are former Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.)’s Integrated Strategy Group and RB Crowe, the new firm launched by veteran Democratic lobbyist Robert Crowe following his departure from Nelson Mullins.

Also worth noting : Georgia opposition leader Nikanor “Nika” Melia  signed a $150,000 contract with Cogent Strategies days before being arrested at the headquarters of his United National Movement party.

And the Ethiopian embassy in Washington has hired Venable for $35,000 a month as the country faces bipartisan criticism for its handling of ethnic strife in the northern Tigray region and a rival lobbying campaign by Egypt for US support in the regional dispute over Ethiopia’s new dam on the Nile.

Finally, former Donald Trump campaign adviser Robert Stryk and his Sonoran Policy Group are lobbying pro bono for Kazakh oligarch Alexander Mashkevitch, a business partner of sanctioned Israeli mining magnate Dan Gertler.

Source: Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

On the public relations front, New York CEO advisory firm Teneo has expanded the scope of its work for the UAE’s Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation by more than $3 million. The work includes developing a communications strategy and celebration committee plan for the 50th anniversary of the Gulf kingdoms’ union in December 1971

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And the French Development Agency has hired US-based Portland PR Inc. to boost the profile of the French-led effort to bring together the world’s public development banks in tackling climate change and other global challenges.

Source: Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

Lobbying and public firms disclosed another $4 million in contract renewals last month.

Dominating the ranking is the Saudi Embassy’s year-long, $1.37 million contract renewal with the Iowa-based Larson Shannahan Slifka (LS2) Group, which has been spearheading the kingdom’s outreach to the US heartland since last November 2019.

Source: Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)