Latest filings

El Salvador hires former top US diplomat on $1.2 million contract amid IMF push; Seven Letter ends Japan engagement; New Iran opposition group extends lobbying engagement : Wednesday’s Daily Digest

El Salvador’s Bukele hires former top US diplomat on $1.2 million contract amid IMF push

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele attends a press availability with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in El Salvador on July 21, 2019 / State Department photo by Ron Przysucha

El Salvador has tapped a former top US diplomat on a $1.2 million contract as the country looks to negotiate a $1.3 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following an electoral sweep by President Nayib Bukele‘s party.

Bukele’s office hired white shoe law firm Arnold & Porter for one year effective March 25 to “provide strategic advice” and “outreach in support of relations with the United States and multilateral institutions.” The effort is being led by former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, who is registered as a foreign agent on the contract along with Raul Herrera, a former general counsel to the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank group.

The contract comes as the 39-year-old president has been racking up influence firms to counter criticism of his populist governing style and encourage US and international investment in the central American country, with lobbying spending now totaling $240,000 a month ($2.9 million a year).

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Haiti: Anna Kredisova, a senior associate in Mercury‘s London office, is no longer lobbying for the government of Haiti. She had registered as a foreign agent on Mercury Public Affairs‘ contract with Mercury International UK to represent the office of President Jovenel Moise in October 2020. Former Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) is still lobbying on the account along with Chris Murphy, the director of the firm’s Washington office. Mercury has represented Moise’s office since 2018. While the contract doesn’t spell out specific fees, Mercury disclosed receiving $506,000 ($368,000 in fees and $138,000 in expenses) for its Haiti work in 2020. In addition, the Haitian Embassy in Washington recently signed a $37,000-a-month contract with Florida law firm Patino & Associates and a $25,000-a-month contract with Miami-based Latin America Advisory Group. Meanwhile  Johanna Leblanc, a former vice-chair of Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s Commission on African Affairs, has been paid $5,000 a month to serve as an adviser to the Haitian government since March 2019.

Haiti lobby battles diaspora over support for embattled president


Japan: Seven Letter has terminated its advocacy campaign for Japan, the firm confirmed to Foreign Lobby Report. The Embassy of Japan in Washington hired the Washington communications firm last summer for $40,000 per month through Feb. 28 to provide “media outreach and advertising campaigns to support the goals of the foreign principal, including the promotion of tourism in Japan, as well as raise awareness of Japan’s public health initiatives and COVID response.” In a new lobbying filing for the six months through February the firm disclosed receiving $482,000 from the embassy, including $200,000 for a digital advertising campaign, but did not indicate a termination date. Founding partner Erik Smith however confirmed that the contract had not been extended or renewed.

Middle East

Iran: Iran opposition lobbyist Ayal Frank held four virtual meetings with State Department Office of Iranian Affairs political desk officer Nathan Crook in the six months through February to discuss “Iran issues” and “US-Iran relations,” according to a new lobbying filing. The self-declared Iran Transition Council, which bills itself as an “alternative to the regime” in Tehran, hired Frank‘s firm AF International on June 10 to help “arrange for meetings and activities with government and media toward Iran and the current and future governments of Iran.” The group’s founding members include Hassan Shariatmadari, a Germany-based son of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, and Mohsen Sazegara, a Washington-based journalist and activist who co-founded the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) before leaving the revolutionary government in 1989. The $2,000-a-month contract was supposed to run for six months starting in June 2020 but Frank disclosed contacting Crook by phone and email as recently as Jan. 21. Frank did not respond to a request for comment about the current status of the contract.

Another Iran group hires regime change lobbyist

Turkey: Anna Kredisova, a senior associate in Mercury‘s London office, is no longer registered as a foreign agent for the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK). She had registered in January 2020 to assist with TAIK’s public relations campaign. Mercury renewed its $1 million-a-year contract with TAIK earlier this year despite dropping its representation of the Turkish government amid pressure from the Armenian American community over support for Azerbaijan in last year’s conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is one of the key lobbyists on the account.

Business lobbying

South Korea: ​Doosan Bobcat North America, a North Dakota-based affiliate of the South Korean construction equipment manufacturer, has hired Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg to lobby on Section 301 tariffs. Edward Steiner, a former aide to former Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), is the only registered lobbyist on the account. This is Doosan’s only lobbying engagement.

Caught our eye

Jewish activists are trying to galvanize American Jews to take up the Uyghur cause through a major Jewish advocacy campaign on a par with the Save Darfur campaign of the 2000s, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.