Latest filings

Syrian Kurdish forces battling Turkey plan US visit; Trump EPA official’s firm lobbies for Chinese solar company; Armenian diaspora looks to the courts after genocide recognition: Monday’s Daily Digest

Update: Syrian Kurdish forces battling Turkey plan US visit

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) graduation in Deir ez-Zor, Syria on Jan. 11, 2018 / SDF Press Office

The Syrian Kurdish military force that NATO ally Turkey deems to be a terrorist organization has hired a Republican lobbyist to arrange a US visit.

According to new lobbying documents uploaded over the weekend,  James Dornan is to be paid an initial $7,000 to help “set up and facilitate meetings” between members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and members of Congress “for the purpose of thanking them for their support.” He reports to Nowruz Ahmed, the general commander of the Women’s Protection Unit (YPJ) militia, the YPG’s all-female counterpart.

Read the story here.

Interview: Armenian diaspora looks to the courts after genocide recognition

Armenian-Americans fought for decades to give President Joe Biden the political space for his historic recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

Now they’re ready for the next fight.

In a wide-ranging interview with Foreign Lobby Report this past week, activist Aram Hamparian reflected on the long road to last weekend’s announcement and the diaspora’s priorities — including legal action — going forward.

Read the full interview here.

New lobbying filings


Democratic Republic of the Congo: Jacques Abandelwa of Iowa City has registered as a foreign agent for the Party of Democrats for the Development of Congo (PDDCO), a political party in the capital Kinshasa of which he is the chairman. Abandelwa’s filing with the US Justice Department says he will “engage in diplomacy” on behalf of the party and seek to “influence public officials or agencies of the United States [to] join with or partner with PDDCO to combat corruption, human rights abuses, promote fair democratic processes [and] promote stability and security.” The party says it stands for democracy and federalism. Abandelwa did not respond to a request for comment sent through the party’s web site.

Bill Clinton aide signs with Israeli diamond dealer to represent Congolese President Tshisekedi
DR Congo mining chief lobbies for US visit amid corruption allegations


Japan: The Embassy of Japan in Washington has renewed its contract with Alignment Government Strategies through March 31, 2022. Alignment has represented the embassy since 2015, currently for $14,333 per month. Firm principals Rebecca AndersonMichael BeerBertram CarpJennifer DiJames and Leo Jardot and counsels David Rudd and Tracy Taylor are registered on the account.

South Korea: Kyle Ferrier of the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) has a fascinating run-down of the Joe Biden administration’s decision to intervene in the electric vehicle battery trade dispute between South Korean giants SK Innovation and LG Chemical. According to Ferrier, the administration encouraged a $1.8 billion settlement to avoid a 10-year import ban on SK batteries after the company was found to have stolen LG trade secrets. An SK ban would have cost thousands of jobs in the battleground state of Georgia and set back the administration’s climate change and manufacturing goals, Ferrier writes. KEI is registered as a foreign agent of the government-funded Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP).

SK and LG have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against each other since LG filed its complaint in April 2019. SK has hired Capitol City Group, Covington & Burling, the Chartwell Strategy Group and former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Carol Browner since October 2020. Meanwhile firms registered to lobby for various LG corporate entities include Akin Gump, Dentons, Hogan Lovells, McLarty Inbound, the Potomac Law Group and the Tiber Creek Group (formerly Peck Madigan Jones). The CGCN Group lobbied for LG until Dec. 31, 2020, Miller Strategies until Jan. 1 and Mayer Brown until March 31.


United Kingdom: Steptoe & Johnson disclosed $303,000 in fees for services from the British Treasury during the six months through March. The firm contacted trade and tax staff in the US Treasury Department as well as the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees to discuss Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) negotiations around a digital services tax (DST) during the period. The firm also disclosed a Jan. 15 phone call with the office of Rep. Suzan Delbene (D-Wash.), the vice-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The British Treasury hired Steptoe in June 2020 amid push-back from the Donald Trump administration against British plans to tax digital giants such a Facebook and Amazon. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced in early June that it was opening investigations into proposed and recently enacted DSTs by the European Union and nine individual individual countries, including the UK.

UK hires law firm to help defend digital services tax amid US probe

Business lobbying

JinkoSolar (China): A Washington firm co-led by a top Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency official who pushed to exit the Paris climate agreement is now lobbying for the US subsidiary of China’s JinkoSolar, the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer. JinkoSolar (US) of San Francisco has hired Section VII Strategies of Washington to lobby on “general tax, trade, and tariff issues.” The firm is co-led by former EPA chief of staff Mandy Gunasekara and her husband Surya Gunasekara, a former chief of staff and tax counsel for former Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio). Only Surya Gunasekara is currently registered as a lobbyist on the account. The registration was effective April 1. Section VII is named after the provision in the US Constitution that states that all bills to raise revenue originate in the House of Representatives.

This is the second firm JinkoSolar has hired as the company looks to benefit from the Joe Biden administration’s investments in renewable energy. JinkoSolar (US) hired Mercury Public Affairs for $100,000 in December to provide “public relations services related to principal’s business practices and economic interests, including outreach to U.S.-based media” through Feb. 7. Meanwhile the company’s in-house lobbying arm disclosed spending $90,000 on lobbying in the first quarter, up from just $6,000 for all of 2020.

Chinese solar giant seeks lobbying help as Biden eyes renewables

Caught our eye

Washington advocacy group In Defense of Christians has tapped a former US Air Force judge advocate and longtime senior adviser to the group to serve as its new executive director. Richard Ghazal previously served as a federal criminal prosecutor and as the US Air Force in Europe’s Chief of Levant political-military intelligence, with special focus on Hezbollah, according to a press release from IDC. As executive director, Ghazal will “lead the IDC team in strategic planning, drive the implementation of policy priorities, and direct advocacy initiatives in the legislative and executive branches of government.” The position had been vacant since Philippe Nassif left in December 2018 to become advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The group’s in-house lobbying arm spent $10,000 in the first quarter lobbying on a range of issues including recognition of the Armenian genocide, continued support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, support for Coptic Christians in Egypt and a resolution calling for Ethiopian forces and Tigrayan rebels to end the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

Lebanese-Americans step up advocacy as country crumbles