Latest filings

Turkey scrambles to rebuild decimated lobbying team as tensions with US pile up; Mongolia party drops pre-election PR after backlash; Haiti trade asks spelled out: Tuesday’s Daily Digest

Turkey scrambles to rebuild decimated lobbying team as tensions with US pile up

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan / Turkish Presidency Facebook page

Turkey is scrambling to rebuild a lobbying presence that has been decimated over the past few months.

The Turkish government has lost four firms back to back and no longer has any former members of Congress lobbying on its behalf as it faces bipartisan criticism in Congress and a US president who over the weekend became the first to recognize the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide.

Meanwhile the country’s pro-Kurdish party and supporters of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen are ramping up their own pressure campaign against Ankara.

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Benin: Communications firm Sanitas International reached out to international media last month on behalf of Benin’s former foreign minister Rogantien Biaou and his opposition Alliance Patriotique Nouvel Espoir (New Hope Patriotic Alliance). The firm was active ahead of Benin’s presidential election held April 11, which saw the incumbent Patrice Talon win another term after most of his opponents were barred from running. Sanitas managing director Bruce Fryer notably reached out to reporters with The Washington Post, Financial Times, The Economist and French news organizations to connect them with Biaou. The day before the country’s elections, The Economist published an article on Benin that quoted Biaou saying, “We are not in a democratic country any more.”

The firm reported receiving $10,000 from Alliance during March. The $30,600 contract began March 1 and is supposed to last for three months. Fryer was registered on the account alongside Sanitas founding partner Christopher Harvin.

Benin opposition seeks Biden’s help for election do-over

Liberia: The government of Liberia has renewed its lobbying contract for another year with KRL International, a boutique Washington firm led by K. Riva Levinson that specializes in sub-Saharan Africa. KRL is tasked with helping build relationships between Liberia and US institutions, boosting the importance of Liberia in relation to US policy with Africa, sharing the country’s democratic and economic developments and improving the country’s reputation globally.

KRL has been representing Liberia since January 2020 for $20,000 per month and will continue to do so under the new contract. Levinson is currently the only person registered on the account.


Haiti: Sorini Samet & Associates shared materials supporting US-Haiti trade relations to Congress on behalf of the country’s private manufacturing sector, the Association des Industries d’Haiti (Haitian Industry Association), or ADIH. The trade-focused firm is lobbying for the extension of the HOPE and HELP trade preference programs, which support textile and apparel exports to the US. Although the program expires Sept. 30, 2025, documents shared with Congress states that action is needed immediately to attract foreign investment as the country’s economy tries to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group is also recommending that Congress make changes to the current program that would make additional, non-sensitive items eligible for the program and modify the rules of origin for some items.

Source: Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

“Action by the U.S. Congress to extend the HOPE-HELP Programs would provide a needed source of stability and reinvigorate the industry,” the firm wrote. “This would help retain the job growth and economic development Haiti has experienced until now and will prevent the pandemic and other concerns within the country from causing any additional regression in the industry.”

The firm registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) “out of an abundance of caution” because Haiti’s national investment promotion agency, the Center for Facilitation of Investments, may help fund ADIH and may benefit from the lobbying. Sorini Samet is already registered as a lobbyist for ADIH under the domestic Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). Firm principals Ronald Sorini and Andrew Samet, along with Chelsea Murtha, the firm’s director for Trade, Sustainability and Global Affairs are all registered on the account.


Japan: Communications firm The Ogilvy Group reported receiving $237,000 from the Embassy of Japan in Washington in the six months through March. The firm has been working with the embassy to share Japan’s efforts to combat COVID-19 ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo and promote sculptures dedicated to US-Japanese relations that were erected during the 2021 Cherry Blossom festival. Ogilvy recently extended its $282,000 contract with the embassy for another year.

Ogilvy also registered three more people as foreign agents for the embassy: Contractor Shannon Au, the CEO of Maryland-based Power Marketing LLC, and social media influencers Danielle Sauter and Laurie Collins.

Mongolia: The DCI Group informed the US Department of Justice on April 23 that it had terminated its $50,000, two-month contract with the Democratic Party of Mongolia (DP) “effective immediately” following a backlash in the country after Foreign Lobby Report first revealed existence of the contract last week. The party had hired the firm for two months starting April 12 to promote President Khaltmaa Battulga‘s party as the “vanguard of Mongolian democracy” ahead of June 9 elections in the country.

DCI vice president Kevin Ivers and partner Ryan Grillo were registered on the account and had already begun work boosting Battulga’s image in the US. The firm sent press releases to US media last week, including one that defended the president’s decree that dissolved the ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which holds a parliamentary supermajority, while insisting that he should be able to run again despite a constitutional amendment limiting presidents to one four-year term. 

Mongolian party’s hiring of US PR firm ahead of elections sparks political uproar

Philippines: BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) has registered Yee Ching Angelina Leung to conduct strategic communications for the Bangko Sentral ng Philipinas (BSP), the Philippines’ central bank.  The firm signed a one-year, $300,000 contract last January to provide “counsel and assistance for the Bangko Sentral ng Philipinas (BSP) and the government’s economic team in the area of strategic communications to promote BSP’s economic initiative and economic messages internationally.”


United Kingdom: Holland & Knight belatedly registered a contract extension with the British Ministry of Defense that began March 2020 to “act as external US legal counsel to the Authority on matters concerning United States law and legal practice. The firm has represented the ministry since 1999.

Middle East

Iraq (Kurdistan): The Kurdistan Regional Government’s US office hosts a virtual event on Wednesday commemorating the 30th anniversary of Operation Provide Comfort, the US and coalition-led effort to protect the Iraqi Kurds under Saddam Hussein in 1991.

“This bold and brave military-humanitarian operation was a turning point in Iraqi Kurdistan’s fortunes,” the invitation states. “After suffering decades of oppression, genocide and environmental destruction, for the first time, the people of Kurdistan found protection and grasped the opportunity to create a region that is today an example of stability, peaceful coexistence and a safe haven for those fleeing conflict.”

The event includes an impressive line-up of US speakers, including:

  • James A. Baker III, former US Secretary of State;
  • Dana Stroul, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, US Department of Defense;
  • Gen. John Abizaid, retired, United States Army;
  • Gen. Jay Garner, retired, United States Army; and
  • Gen. James Jones, retired, United States Marine Corps.

Kuwait: Holland & Knight terminated its contract with Kuwaiti businessman Talal al-Dabbous on Oct. 14, 2020, according to a new lobbying filing. The firm was hired at the beginning of last year to “assist with strategic and legal advice, including communication and media relations services” to support al-Dabboous’ business and legal objectives. Holland & Knight’s work was paid for on an hourly basis. The firm received $105,000 for legal representation services in the first six months through August 2020 but did not report any activities afterwards.

Business lobbying

Wavefront Technology Solutions (Canada): Key Advocates has been hired by Wavefront Technology Solutions USA, a part of the Canadian energy technology company of the same name, to lobby on issues related to stranded oil and gas technology. The firm’s managing directors Sante Esposito and Bryan Esposito are registered to lobby for the company.

Caught our eye

Jamaica: Jamaica’s Tourist Board has hired the Lou Hammond Group to promote travel to the country, replacing the country’s previous contract with Finn Partners, O’Dwyer’s reports. Lou Hammond will pitch the island as a “four-season destination of choice” for Americans due to its scenery, culture and opportunities for wellness.

Politico reports that the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence will create a Foreign Malign Influence Center in response to foreign entities interfering with US affairs, such as Russia’s various hacks into US institutions. The creation of the new center was outlined in a recent intelligence authorization bill.