Latest filings

Mexican governor accused of drug ties hires US law firm to battle leaks; McConnell chief of staff lobbies for Egypt, Korea; Former Rep. Denham lobbies for Chinese-owned video game company: Monday’s Daily Digest


Mexican governor accused of drug ties hires US law firm to battle leaks

Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca / Houston Baptist University

A Mexican governor accused of money laundering and ties to organized crime has hired a Texas law firm to try to put an end to the Mexican media’s publication of confidential US government documents that he says amounts to a political hatchet job by the ruling party of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca of the from the conservative opposition National Action Party hired Gerger Hennessy & McFarlane of Houston in his personal capacity for an undetermined amount of time, effective April 2. The firm is expected to contact officials in the Joe Biden administration and possibly Congress “concerning the disclosure of confidential information to Mexican Press and the harms caused thereby” and “seek to educate officials concerning the importance of mitigating the harm and preventing it in the future.”

“You have asked our assistance in contacting the United States Government, and in particular FinCEN, to discuss articles in the Mexican press that purport to contain confidential information that may have been sourced from FinCEN,” firm partner David Gerger wrote to Cabeza de Vaca, who was elected governor in 2016. FinCEN — the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — is a bureau of the US Treasury Department that collects and analyzes information about financial transactions to fight domestic and international money laundering, terrorism financing and other financial crimes.

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New lobbying filings

Africa

Somalia/Somaliland: The Somaliland Mission to the US distributed a statement from the government of the self-declared sovereign state declaring itself “gravely concerned about the undemocratic and destabilizing events unfolding in our neighboring country Somalia” after parliament last week voted to extend the term of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmaajo, for another two years.

“Today’s political stalemate is a testament to the oppressive, and tyrannical leadership of the Farmaajo regime, which is an absolute threat to the security and stability of the region and could plunge Somalia into a fresh civil war that may conceivably compel the displacement of thousands of civilians into the neighboring countries including the Republic of Somaliland,” the Somaliland government said. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement last week saying the US was ” deeply disappointed” with the vote and warning of potential aid cuts, sanctions and visa restrictions “to respond to efforts to undermine peace and stability.”

Asia

Azerbaijan: Only seven lawmakers had signed on to a “Dear Colleague” letter from the Azerbaijan Caucus to congressional appropriators as of Friday, according to an email to congressional staff disclosed by Azerbaijan lobbying firm BGR. Azerbaijan is lobbying for reconstruction and refugee aid to be sent directly to Baku following last year’s conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, arguing that otherwise aid risks falling in the hands of Russia, which brokered last year’s cease-fire after its Armenian ally was routed by the Turkish-backed Azerbaijanis. The powerful Armenian diaspora for its part is lobbying for Azerbaijan to get nothing at all.

Joining Caucus co-chairs Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) are Reps. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Scott Perry (R-Penn.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). Only Cuellar and Aderholt sit on the Appropriations panel. The deadline is Friday, April 23, to sign the letter to Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), the chairwoman and top Republican on the House Appropriations panel on foreign aid.

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Japan: The Ogilvy Group has registered 11 people on its account with Japan after signing a one-year, $282,000 contract extension with the Japanese Embassy in Washington. They are:

Ogilvy is tasked with developing and maintaining a public affairs and communications strategy on behalf of the embassy. The embassy initially hired the firm in January 2020 to provide media outreach and mural exhibit design support during the 2020 Cherry Blossom season in Washington, DC.

Micronesia: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer has registered associate attorney Alyssa Gerstner on its account with the government of the Federated States of Micronesia.

Middle East

Egypt: The Egyptian government now has improved access to leaders in both chambers of Congress as it fights back bipartisan criticism of its human rights record. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has registered policy director Brian McGuire, a longtime aide and former chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to its $65,000-a-month contract with the Embassy of Egypt. McGuire joins Nadeam Elshami, a longtime chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on the account along with former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and former Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) on the account.

McGuire, who briefly served as assistant secretary for Legislative Affairs at the Treasury Department under President Donald Trump, will also lobby on Brownstein’s new $30,000-per-month contract with the Embassy of South Korea. Elshami, Royce and Begich are also all registered on that account.

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New business lobbying

North American Interpipe (Ukraine): The US affiliate of a global steel pipe company owned by Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk has hired former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and his Daschle Group to lobby on “matters related to trade restrictions on imports of steel pipe from Ukraine.” Daschle, his son Nathan Daschle, who is the firm’s president, and vice president Veronica Pollock are registered as lobbyists on the account with Houston-based North American Interpipe. The Daschle Group is a public policy advisory of Baker Donelson.

The Livingston Group and its founder, former Rep. Robert Livingston (R-La.), have lobbied for North American Interpipe since 2017. Groups representing US steel companies and workers have asked President Joe Biden to keep in place the 25% tariffs on steel imports that President Donald Trump imposed in 2018 on national security grounds.

Riot Games (China): California-based videogame developer Riot Games, which is owned by Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent, has hired K&L Gates to lobby on “issues related to technology policy and video game industry, including data security, privacy and content moderation.” Former Rep. Jeffrey Denham (R-Calif.) is one of four lobbyists on the contract, which was hired effective March 11. Denham is also a registered lobbyist for ByteDance and lobbied for Chinese drone maker DJI until March 31 (see termination below).

Last year the Donald Trump administration inquired about the security protocols the maker of hit esports game League of Legends has in place to handle Americans’ personal data, Bloomberg reported. Platinum Advisors has lobbied regarding data privacy and intellectual property for Riot Games since February 2020. Meanwhile Tencent and its US affiliate have hired Brownstein Hyatt, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison and Toby Myerson.

DJI (China): K&L Gates has stopped lobbying for the US affiliate of Chinese drone maker DJI as of March 11. The firm had lobbied for the company since 2016 and disclosed $1.23 million in payments since then. Former Reps. Jeffrey Denham (R-Calif.) and Barton Gordon (D-Tenn.) was one of the lobbyists on the account. DJI still retains the services of Akin Gump, Cassidy & Associates and CLS Strategies.

Samsung (South Korea): Samsung Electronics America has hired the Capitol Consulting Group to lobby on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and “issues relating to H.R. 7178, the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act or CHIPS for America Act.” Registered on the account is Stephen Replogle, a former ​legislative affairs Adviser at the US Department of Commerce and senior policy adviser for the Senate Republican Conference.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals (Japan): Takeda Pharmaceuticals America of Illinois, a US affiliate of the Japanese drug maker, has hired Holland & Knight to lobby on tax issues. The only lobbyist on the account is Joshua Odintz, a former tax counsel on the Senate Finance Committee.

Elbit Systems (Israel): Fort Worth-based Elbit Systems of America, a US affiliate of the Israeli defense electronics company, has hired J.A. Green and Company to lobby on “issues related to radar repair/training and DPA (Defense Production Act) applications” and the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022. Lobbying for Elbit are firm founder Jeffery Green, a former staff director to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, and Andrew Tabler, a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs (Senate).

Meanwhile Covington & Burling stopped representing Elbit as of March 31. The firm had represented the company since 2017 and disclosed $350,000 in payments since then. American Defense International and Stapleton & Associates remain registered to lobby for Elbit.

Caught our eye

Russia/Ukraine: The Joe Biden administration has decided not to bring on board a Russia expert following a lobbying campaign by groups who considered by some to be too soft on Moscow, Politico reports. The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the largest Ukrainian-American organization in America, wrote to President Biden on April 12 to object to the nomination of Matthew Rojansky, the director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, to serve as Russia director on the National Security Council.

Turkey: The Turkish American National Steering Committee, a diaspora group close to the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wrote to President Joe Biden on April 15 urging him not to label the massacre of Armenians in the closing days of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. As in past years, the Armenian diaspora is lobbying the White House to make such a declaration on April 24, which Armenians the world over commemorate as the anniversary of the massacres that culminated in 1915. “Rather than cast a calumny on April 24,” the committee wrote, “we urge you to exert leadership to bring Armenians and Turks together to build on their shared roots and achieve a proper reckoning of a complex past.” The committee is co-chaired by Gunay Evinch, a longtime lawyer for the embassy whose Washington firm Saltzman & Evinch was required to register last year by the US Department of Justice as a foreign agent of Turkey.

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Ukraine: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigates the trail of bankrupt factories Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky is accused of leaving behind in the US industrial heartland. The Joe Biden administration sanctioned the billionaire last month, while a Canadian energy company mounting an international legal fight against a Ukrainian oligarch has hired a Democratic government affairs firm that got entangled in last year’s impeachment saga.

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