Africa, New in Lobbying, Top contracts

Strife-filled East African nations dominate $3 million in new lobbying in quest to placate US critics

East African nations facing domestic strife dominated new lobbying business last month as they seek to placate mounting criticism in Congress and the Joe Biden administration, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of filings disclosed to the Department of Justice in April.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Peace for example hired Holland & Knight for six months and $270,000 as fighting rages in the northern region of Tigray, sparking bipartisan calls for an independent investigation (story here). This is the Ethiopian government’s second lobbying hire this year and comes as a growing number of Ethiopian-American advocacy groups are hiring their own lobbyists to demand greater US action.

In next-door Somalia, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed‘s government has retained New Jersey-based lobbying firm LFA Holdings for $150,000 to help organize a presidential visit to Washington as the State Department demands that stalled elections be held “immediately.” (story here).

And in Uganda, the government of President Yoweri Museveni has hired Mercury Public Affairs for an undisclosed amount as the US governments reassesses its relationship with the country following reports of voter intimidation during January elections that saw the president re-elected to a sixth term (our story here).

Mercury is also representing for the new Government of National Unity (GNU) in Libya as it prepares for elections later this year in the north African country. Mercury previously represented the GNU’s predecessor, the Government of National Accord.

Finally, the Embassy of Kenya in Washington has hired a pair of veterans of the Bill Clinton White House to press its case for a free trade deal with Congress and the Biden administration. Its contract with Rational 360 is for $600,000 over one year (story here).

The most expensive contract however was El Salvador’s $1.2 million deal with Arnold & Porter to represent the office of President Nayib Bukele. The populist president is seeking a $1.3 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after his party swept elections in February (story here).

Other notable contracts include:

  • Political consultant Lanny Davis‘s representation of Ukrainian oligarch and accused money launderer Dmytro Firtash, who allegedly helped the Donald Trump administration dig up dirt on Biden’s son Hunter Biden during the presidential campaign;
  • Former Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) of Sidley Austin helping the central bank of Vietnam as it faces accusations of manipulating its currency; and
  • The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is deemed a terrorist group by NATO ally Turkey, hiring a former Republican congressional staffer to arrange a visit to Capitol Hill.
Source: Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

PR and consulting firms also disclosed six public relations contracts with foreign principals worth a combined $1.4 million last month.

Daniel J. Edelman‘s Zeno Group dominated the ranking with a $1.1 million statement of work for public relations for 2021 with the Aruba Tourism Authority.

Read all our past monthly reports here.

Also worth noting is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company‘s $45,000 contract with APCO Worldwide to represent its CEO Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber in his role as the UAE’s climate envoy (story here).

Meanwhile in Mongolia, a $50,000 public relations contract with the DCI Group to promote President Khaltmaa Battulga‘s Democratic Party of Mongolia as the “vanguard of Mongolian democracy” ahead of June 9 elections fell apart after a political uproar following Foreign Lobby Report‘s coverage of the contract.

Source: Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

In addition, foreign clients renewed or extended more than $4.1 million worth of contracts, according to last month’s lobbying disclosures.

Source: Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)