Latest filings

Turkey’s F-35 bid tops $4 million in new foreign lobbying for February; Airbus hires Heather Podesta’s Invariant; Hong Kong activists launch virtual congressional fly-in: Wednesday’s Daily Digest

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.

Arnold & Porter‘s $750,000 contract to help Turkey rejoin the international program building the F-35 fighter jet dominated new lobbying. 

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 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.

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

Read the story here.

Opinion: Congress misses an opportunity to better regulate foreign corporate lobbying

Congressional Democrats missed a chance to improve regulation of foreign corporate lobbying with their For the People Act, guest columnist and Sandler Reiff attorney Joshua Rosenstein writes in his latest piece for Foreign Lobby Report.

While Rosenstein praises the bill for seeking to prohibit foreign funding of referendum campaigns, he writes that lawmakers should have been bolder in extending the Foreign Agents Registration Act’s disclosure requirements and ban on contingency fees to the less-demanding Lobbying Disclosure Act, which regulates lobbying by both domestic and foreign corporations.

Read the column here.

New lobbying filings


Morocco: Cornerstone Government Affairs lobbied farm-state lawmakers on behalf of the US subsidiary of Moroccan phosphate mining company OCP according to a lobbying filing for the six months through January. The firm’s lobbyists notably held phone calls with staffers for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) as the company faces the threat of US tariffs amid accusations of unfair government subsidies from Tampa-based rival the Mosaic Company.

Mining giant leads Moroccan lobbying blitz
Morocco lobbyists target farm-state senators in fight over fertilizer tariffs


Azerbaijan: Public affairs firm the S-3 Group has registered Vice President of Public Affairs Jared Geldner as a foreign agent providing social media services for Baku-based Investment Corporation LLC. Prior to joining S-3, Geldner worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Glover Park Group (now  Finsbury Glover Hering). The Azerbaijani company, which critics claim is a front for the Azerbaijani government, hired S-3 alongside Portland PR in October to advance the country’s point of view regarding the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

Warring Caucasus parties take their fight to Washington
Azerbaijan defies Armenian boycott campaign with new PR hire

Japan: A US subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate the SoftBank Group has hired Peck Madigan Jones to lobby on the expansion of Section 48 tax credit to include electrochromic glass. SB Group US has registered a bipartisan team to lobby on the account, including John Michael Gonzalez, a former Democratic congressional aide and Barack Obama transition staffer; Jay Heimbach, a special assistant to Obama and former chief of staff for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Jen Olson, a former aide to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); Jeff Shapiro, who served as chief of staff to Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.); and Drew Cantor, who worked for the Senate Republican Conference. The firm joins Fierce Government Relations, which receives $60,000 per quarter to lobby for SB Group US. SB Group also reported $3.7 million in in-house lobbying last year.

SoftBank’s renewable energy subsidiary in California, SB Energy DevCo (US), hired Peck Madigan Jones in April 2020 to lobby for COVID-19 relief and investment tax credits. The lobbyists on the new account also lobby on that account.

New Zealand: The Washington office of Beef & Lamb New Zealand received $66,500 from its head office in Wellington during the six months through January to promote North American imports of New Zealand meat.

Singapore: The Fratelli Group has extended its contract with the Embassy of Singapore in Washington through May 31 at the previous rate of $18,000 per month. The embassy hired the Washington communications firm in 2018 to monitor the media and position Singapore as a “longstanding and strategic partner” of the US with Congress and the White House.


France/Netherlands: Airbus Americas, the US subsidiary of the European multinational aerospace corporation, has hired Heather Podesta‘s firm Invariant to “educate members of Congress on Airbus’s presence in the U.S.” Registered to lobby on the account are Mary Beth Stanton, a former aide to former Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.); Nicole Venable, a former executive director at the US Chamber of Commerce and chief of staff to former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.); and Noah Kowalski, a former staffer for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Invariant joins a slew of other high-profile firms lobbying for Airbus in Washington, including Squire Patton Boggs, the Glover Park Group, Prime Translatlantic LLC, BGR Government Affairs, Fierce Government Relations, Bob Riley & Associates, Hogal Lovells US, Cassidy & Associates, Federal Solutions and MRC Consulting.

Russia: Russia’s state-run media Rossiya Segodnya, or Russia Today, paid Washington production company Ghebi $825,000 in the six months through March to create radio and web articles for the Sputnik multimedia platform. In August, the media company penned a year-long, $5.2 million contract with Ghebi, which was incorporated by RIA Global Editor-in-Chief Mindia Gavasheli. The only registered agent on the account is Christopher Pyburn, the managing director for RIA Global.

Russian news outlet inks $5.2 million deal with DC production company

Middle East

Saudi Arabia: The Williams Group has registered director of government affairs Jonathan Jackson on its account with Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Washington. Jackson is expected to “monitor and report on potential legislative activity.” Jackson previously served as senior legislative assistant to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). He joins firm founder Michael Williams and consultant Jennifer Stewart on the account.

The Williams Group also disclosed being paid $120,000 from the Saudi Embassy during the six months through March 5 to monitor and report on legislative activity in US Congress, but no lobbying.

Lobbyists with Congressional Black Caucus ties gain clout as Meeks takes over House foreign affairs panel

Turkey: Mercury Public Affairs shared a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken from the chairman of the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK) this week congratulating Blinken on his Senate confirmation. The letter from Mehmet Ali Yalcindag stressed the importance of bilateral trade between the US and Turkey and pointed to potential future endeavors, such as Turkey becoming a key importer of US liquefied natural gas and agriculture products and helping the US rely less on Chinese supply chains. Mercury previously shared similar letters from Yalcindag to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, we reported Tuesday.

“The economic relationship between our two countries is not just vital for Turkish and American livelihoods; it is the foundation upon which our decades-old alliance can be strengthened,” Yalcindag wrote. “We believe that through trade and greater economic interdependence, we can bring forth more security, understanding, and increased cooperation within our critically important strategic relationship.”

Turkish businesses seek to mend US-Turkey ties with anti-China lobbying pitch
Lobbyists help grease proposed gas deal between Louisiana and Turkey


Advocacy group Stand with Hong Kong is joining other US-based groups this week to organize virtual congressional lobbying meetings that aim to “keep HK on the agenda in DC” as authorities eye changes to the city’s electoral system that the Associated Press reports would “increase central government control over Hong Kong politics and exclude critics of Beijing.” The group says it has scored more than 50 meetings with congressional members from 14 states. Advocates will press for passage of the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act that would give Hong Kong democracy protesters priority status for refugee consideration as well as a resolution from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.) “condemning the continued violation of rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.”