Latest filings

Qatar hires top Florida firm in seventh new hire this year; Doctors Without Borders registers to lobby; Jewish Democrats launch Iran deal campaign as US heads to Vienna talks: Monday’s Daily Digest

New lobbying filings

Americas

Bermuda: Chicago public relations firm Kivvit has extended its contract with Bermuda Business Development Agency for a year starting on April 1. Along with running social media and digital ad campaigns, the firm will arrange meetings with “the most important reporters, business conveners, politicians, law partners, and leaders in insurance and financial services” in cities across North America. The agency will pay Kivvit $16,500 a month for its services, a $3,000-a-month increase over its last contract extension. Kivvit has worked for the agency since 2009.

HondurasGus West Government Affairs extended its contract with the Government of Honduras through March for $59,000 per month, the same as the firm’s previous month-long extension in February. The firm has provided public relations consulting for Honduras since 2016. Registered on the account are firm founder Gus West, president of the nonprofit Hispanic Institute in Washington; consultant Leonel Teller Sanchez, a former member of parliament and envoy to the European Union from Nicaragua; and consultant Richard Hernandez.

Honduras has also hired BGR Government Affairs on a $60,000-per-month contract in January 2020. The lobbying push comes as US authorities arrested President Juan Orlando‘s brother, former Honduran lawmaker Juan Alvarado, on drug trafficking charges in Miami in 2018. A US court sentenced Alvarado to life in prison last week.

Jamaica: Miami-based Republica Havas has registered as a foreign agent for the Jamaica Tourist Board. The agreement to design and publish a tourism guide in several languages for the Caribbean island’s tourism agency was signed in October 2020 but was only recently disclosed with the Department of Justice. The firm has already been paid $149,000 for the work. Formerly one of the largest independent Hispanic agencies in the US, Republica sold a stake to French multinational advertising and public relations company in 2018 to become Havas North America’s lead multicultural agency, according to Advertising Age. Marisa Beazel, the president of the firm’s custom publishing arm Havas House, is registered on the account along with Havas House executive operations director Giovanna Sanchez and editorial director Desiree Blanco. This is the firm’s first filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Mexico: New York-based international law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has renewed its contract with Mexico’s Secretariat of the Economy for legal advice regarding trade with the US for 2021. The firm is to be paid a minimum of $669,000 and a maximum of $1.165 million for its legal services, up from $635,000 / $1.058 million under the terms of last year’s extension. Pillsbury has been registered to represent the government agency since 1998.

Asia

East Timor: DLA Piper has terminated its representation of the government of East Timor effective Feb. 18, leaving the southeast nation without any lobbying representation in Washington. The firm had represented the southeast nation since 2016.

Japan: The Japanese consulate in New York has signed a six-month, $150,000 contract with APCO Worldwide to provide communications and media relations services in the US. APCO public relations consultants Anna Ditchev, Suzanne Lyons and Anna-Leigh Ong are registered to work on the account. Along with advising and representing the consulate, they will contact media representatives and other organizations.

South Korea: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea has extended its contract with communications firm T. Dean Reed Company to provide a report of “the list of cultural and media influencers and explanation on their specific interests and political relationships,” according to the new filing with the US Justice Department. The contract, which is worth 19.5 million Korean won (about $17,000), began Feb. 22 and lasts until April 10. T. Dean Reed is a Washington-based public affairs consultant and who previously served as national editor and Washington bureau chief for a group of 30 U.S. daily newspapers.

Europe

Belgium/France/SwitzerlandMedecins Sans Frontieres — aka Doctors Without Borders — has registered an in-house lobbying arm in the US for the first time. Director of programs Carrie Teicher, US policy adviser Dana Gill and humanitarian representative Ella ​Watson-Stryker are registered to lobby on the account. All three are based in the New York area.

Georgia: Hogan Lovells terminated its representation of the ruling Georgia Dream party on Feb. 28, according to a new lobbying filing. The firm has disclosed $375,000 in payments from the party founded by oligarch-turned-politician Bidzina Ivanishvili since it was hired for an initial one-year contract in January 2020. The termination comes as Georgian Dream has come under bipartisan criticism by the Joe Biden administration and Congress following disputed elections while opposition leader Nikanor Melia launched his own lobbying campaign on the eve of his arrest, this news site first reported Feb. 25.

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Norway: The Washington nonprofit Center for International Policy (CIP) extended its contract with Waxman Strategies for help with its campaign against deforestation in southeast Asia for three months through March 31, 2021 after the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) approved a no cost grant extension. The PR and lobbying firm chaired by former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) registered as a foreign agent of Norway in 2019 after the US Department of Justice concluded that organizations that receive grants from foreign development agencies were “obligated” toward those countries. The Norad grant helps fund CIP’s campaign to reduce the impact of “large-scale agricultural investments in the Mekong Region on communities, forest and climate change.” Waxman Strategies was hired to “reach out to academics, corporations, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, and others working on rubber and create consensus around key asks of the rubber industry and governments.”

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Middle East

Iraq: The Livingston Group terminated its representation of the government of Iraq effective March 24. The firm founded by former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) had lobbied for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since December 2017. The last formal contract extension filed with the Department of Justice was for $150,000 for the four months from Nov. 1, 2019 through February 2020. Former House Armed Services Committee communications director Josh Holly and his one-man lobbying firm Holly Strategies Incorporated still represent the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, as do former Ronald Reagan aide Thomas Gibson and his firm G.83 LLC.

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Qatar: The Qatari government’s hiring blitz continues with a seventh new lobbying contract since President Joe Biden‘s election. The Qatari Embassy in Washington has hired Rubin Turnbull & Associates of Florida effective March 15 “to promote commercial, philanthropic, academic, cultural and other exchanges to advance the mutual interests of Florida and the State of Qatar,” according to a new filing with the US Justice Department. The firm’s founder William Rubin and consultants Jacqueline Carmona, Christian Ulvert, Heather Turnbull, Erica Chanti and Jodi Bock Davidson are all registered to work on the account. The six-month contract is worth a total of $210,000.

As reported by Miami news outlets, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez attended a trip to Doha at the end of March along with the mayors of Quincy, Ill. and Rochester Hills, Mich. The trip was “part of an agreement that includes reciprocal delegation visits to both countries,” according to a news release shared with local news. The main goal was for Suarez to bring investments to Miami and promote the city as a destination for international business.

So far this year the embassy has also hired:

Meanwhile Nelson Mullins recently hired Ralph Nurnberger, a former legislative liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and his firm Nurnberger & Associates as a subcontractor on its account with the embassy. And the former commander of the US Fifth Fleet has signed on with Qatar’s Ministry of Defense. The embassy has pre-existing arrangements with about two dozen other firms including Ballard Partners, another top Florida lobbying firm run by President Donald Trump‘s former Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard.

Turkey: The Embassy of Turkey in Washington has renewed its contract with its longtime law firm Saltzman & Evinch for the 2021 calendar year. The contract is for $1.25 million, up from $1.1 million last year. According to its new lobbying filing, “S&E shall serve as Counsel to the Embassy, promoting, protecting and defending the rights and interests of the Republic of Turkey and its diplomatic missions in the United States in the framework of state, federal and international law.” The Justice Department required the firm to register as a foreign agent of Ankara last year due to its coordination with Turkish lobbyists and public relations firms, this news site first reported on July 6. At the time the firm disclosed almost $15 million in payments from the embassy dating all the way back to 2000. Registered on the account are  firm principal Gunay Evinch, co-principal David Saltzman, partner Efe Poturoglu, associate attorneys Rachel Denktas and Arda Cankat and consultant Gani Kuseyri.

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Business lobbying

ChinaBYD North America, a Los Angeles-based affiliate of China’s biggest electric car manufacturer, has hired Capitol City Group to lobby on restrictions on purchases of rolling stock by the US government, effective March 1. The firm’s founder, Gerald Harrington, is the only registered lobbyist on the account. BYD previously hired Capitol Counsel for the same effort effective Jan. 1. Registered on that account are Robert Diamond, a former aide to President Barack Obama and to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Lyndon Boozer, a telecommunications expert. Meanwhile Crossroads Strategies has lobbied for Los Angeles-based BYD Motors since 2019.

Indonesia: The former head of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Asia team has registered to lobby for a pair of Indonesian e-commerce companies. Tamera Overby, now a senior director with McLarty Inbound, is lobbying on “advice related to the USTR’s Notorious Markets process” for PT Bukalapak.com and PT Tokopedia. The Office of the US Trade Representative has been putting out a list of websites and physical markets where it alleges that large-scale intellectual property infringement takes place since 2006. Both companies were listed in USTR’s 2020 annual report, which was released in April.

South Korea: South Korea’s largest energy company has hired a fourth lobbying firm as it battles accusations that it stole trade secrets related to electric vehicle car batteries. Capitol City Group is lobbying for SK Innovation regarding “government relations, consulting and related activities involving administration of trade laws and US commercial and investment interests of SK Innovation Co. Ltd, and SK Battery America, Inc.” The firm’s founder, Gerald Harrington, is the only registered lobbyist on the account, which was effective March 1. The firm joins Covington & Burling, the Chartwell Strategy Group and former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Carol Browner in lobbying for SK. The company is involved in a dispute before the US International Trade Commission with South Korean electric vehicle battery manufacturer LG Chem, which has accused SK Innovation of stealing trade secrets. The US trade watchdog cleared SK Innovation of violating rival LG Energy Solution’s patents in a preliminary ruling last week in one of several legal disputes between the two companies in the US.


Caught our eye

Squire Patton Boggs has hired three new people, Politico Influence reports: Caren Street, the chief of staff to House Foreign Affairs Africa panel Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.); Tommy Andrews, a special assistant to President Donald Trump for legislative affairs who also previously advised former House Speakers Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and John Boehner (R-Ohio); and Rodney Emery, currently a senior strategic adviser with Mercury Public Affairs. Emery is currently registered as a foreign agent for Libya’s Government of National Accord, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Zimbabwe, the Turkey-U.S.
Business Council (TAIK), the ruling People’s Progressive Party of Guyana and the US affiliate of Chinese video surveillance giant Hikvision.

Separately, Politico reports that the Daschle Group of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has hired its first Republican: Joe Hack, previously the chief of staff to Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), will notably lobby for foreign clients. The Daschle Group currently represents the Embassy of Japan and Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America today launched a new advocacy campaign “to demonstrate support from the American Jewish community for President [Joe] Biden’s approach” to diplomacy with Iran. With the United States meeting in Vienna starting Tuesday with other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal for the first time since President Donald Trump exited the accord in 2018, the advocacy group has launched an Iran Resource Center to serve as a resource for the public, the press, and members of Congress while urging its members to write to Congress in support of Biden’s “compliance for compliance” approach to restarting the deal.

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