- Nigeria separatists hire lobbyist who represented military regime
- APCO reps Kazakhstan for $120,000 in legal dispute over oil
- Peck Madigan Jones joins Airbus account
- Miller Strategies ends LG lobbying
New lobbying filings
Nigeria: A group that advocates for independence for Nigeria’s predominantly Christian southeast has hired a Washington firm led by a lobbyist for the country’s former military dictatorship and a retired US government official who helped put away Liberian President Charles Taylor. The Indigenous People of Biafra has hired the BW Global Group for $750,000 through February 2022 to lobby Congress and the State Department on the “promotion of human rights and democracy” in Nigeria. The group is led by Nnamdi Kanu, an exiled activist who left Nigeria after the military raided his home in 2017. Registered to lobby on the account are BW partners Jeffrey Birrell and Alan White.
A longtime lobbyist for a number of African countries via the now-defunct firm Barron-Birrell that he led with former Ronald Reagan aide David Barron, Birrell notably represented the government of Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha in the 1990s. Birrell was also featured in a 2010 report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee that said the government of President Omar Bongo in Gabon wired his firm the Grace Group more than $18 million in “suspect funds” to help acquire American-made armored vehicles and C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft. Birrell did not respond to a request for comment via LinkedIn. His lawyer at the time denied any wrongdoing, telling The Hill newspaper that “all of the export and re-export activities undertaken by The Grace Group LLC, were done with complete transparency.”
White for his part is a former US official who led “worldwide law enforcement operations within the U.S Department of Defense,” according to his LinkedIn profile. His profile says he “developed and implemented numerous public integrity and anticorruption programs” for the US government while also serving as the chief investigator for the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone that prosecuted former President Taylor.
The Indigenous People of Biafra also has a lobbying contract with Mercury Public Affairs. The engagement, which started in October 2019, is for $85,000 per month but the firm only disclosed $254,000 in payments with the US Department of Justice for all of last year.
Kazakhstan: APCO Worldwide has signed a new contract with Anglo-Australian law firm Herbert Smith Freehills on behalf of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice. The contract is for $120,000 and lasts three months from March 4. The firm will provide “strategic communications services within and outside of the United States to assist it and other counsel representing the foreign principal in connection with legal proceedings in the United States and other jurisdictions.”
Kazakhstan has been battling Moldovan businessman Anatolie Stati in US and European court for years over Kazakhstan’s seizure of Stati’s petroleum operations in 2010. APCO previously represented the ministry via Freehills from July 2020 to Jan. 15, 2021. Registered on the account are APCO senior director Jonathan “Jay” Solomon, the former chief foreign affairs for the Wall Street Journal, and director Alison Patch.
Micronesia: Senior policy specialist Sara Garofalo Linder has left Arnold & Porter and its account with the government of the Federated States of Micronesia as of March 5.
South Korea: LG Chem Michigan, a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate LG, terminated its registration with Miller Strategies as of Jan. 1. The company hired Miller Strategies in September 2020 and paid the firm a total of $200,000 last year to lobby on “administration of U.S. trade laws and regulations concerning trade secrets for manufactured products in the energy sector.” LG has accused South Korean rival SK Innovation of stealing electric car battery trade secrets. The International Trade Commission last week banned SK’s electric-vehicle batteries exports to the United States for 10 years after finding in favor of LG Energy Solution, the battery division of LG Chem, South Korea’s largest chemical company. LG Chem Michigan retains a lobbying contract with Dentons US.
Estonia: Estonian venture capital firm Tera Ventures has hired Eastport Strategies of Alexandria, Va. to lobby on “legislation related to new clean energy technologies and approval of new medical technologies.” Eastport was founded last year by Jonas Neihardt, a former top lobbyist for Hilton and Qualcomm.
France / Netherlands: Airbus Americas continues to expand its lobbying presence, adding Peck Madigan Jones to its mix of firms. The registration, effective Feb. 1, states that the firm will work to “educate Members of Congress on Airbus’s presence in the U.S.” Lobbying for the US subsidiary of the European multinational aerospace corporation are two former top aides to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee: former chief of staff Sean Richardson and former counsel Tim Molino. Also lobbying on the account are Jay Heimbach, a former chief of staff to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Matt Leffingwell, a former chief of staff to senior House Appropriations Committee member Kay Granger (R-Texas); and Kristen Harper.
Heather Podesta‘s firm Invariant also previously registered as a lobbyist for Airbus Americas effective Feb. 1. Other firms representing Airbus include 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.
United Arab Emirates: Fleishman-Hillard has registered senior partner Amy Rand and account executive Shelby Lynn Powers on its new $54,000 account to showcase the UAE’s economic strategy. They join Senior Vice President and Partner Michael Schmidt; producer Sarah Mulcahy; and consultant Jess Dillman. The work order, which runs from March 4 through April 30, is in addition to the firm’s previous engagement to build awareness of the UAE’s space program and the Emirates Mars Mission.