- Mexico, Libya, Qatar top $12.5 million in May lobbying disclosures
- UAE taps New York’s Teneo for Expo 2020 work
- Lobbying fight over Guyana elections shifts to US-backed election reforms
- Japan embassy renews $150,000 contract with Republican presidential speechwriter
- Japan consulate ends work with California green energy nonprofit
- In Defense of Christians selects 12 congressional champions for 2021
Mexico, Libya, Qatar top $12.5 million in May lobbying disclosures
Mexico’s $12 million debt restructuring engagement with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton topped the list of new foreign agent registrations last month, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of filings disclosed with the Department of Justice in May.
The contract is one of several older engagements that were only recently disclosed as their lobbying portion begins.
Law firms Baker & Hostetler and Holland & Knight for example are begin to lobby US officials on behalf of the Libya Asset Recovery & Management Office, which seeks to recoup billions of dollars in assets stolen by the late dictator Moamar Gadhafi and his cronies. Meanwhile Situational Advising Analysis Consulting Services of Miami has disclosed its lobbying for Hussein Mohamed Farrah Aidid as the son of Somali warlord Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid takes on a more active role in that country’s presidential race.
In terms of new contracts, the US trading arm of China’s largest oil and gas company has hired Davidoff Hutcher & Citron for help with “regulations and policy related to commodities trading.”
In other news, Qatar’s mission to the International Civil Aviation Organization has hired a US firm for support carving out its own airspace from Bahrain’s.
Read the story here.
New lobbying filings
Somaliland: FGH Holdings — formerly the Glover Park Group — distributed statements from officials from around the world congratulating the breakaway state of Somaliland for its May 31 elections that saw the opposition win the region’s first parliamentary election in 16 years. Those weighing in include Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and former US Special Envoy for the Sahel Peter Pham. The successful elections stand in sharp contrast to neighboring Somalia, where the Joe Biden administration has clashed with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed over delayed elections. Glover Park has lobbied for the Somaliland Mission to the US since 2018 and recently renewed its $22,000-per-month contract through October.
Argentina/Ecuador/El Salvador: White shoe law firm Arnold & Porter has registered international policy specialist Christina Poehlitz as a foreign agent on its contracts with the governments of Argentina, Ecuador and El Salvador. This is her first time registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The firm signed a $1.932 million contract with Argentina’s Ministry of International Trade and Foreign Investment in May 2020 for help with a massive debt restructuring and other economic issues. And shortly after President Joe Biden‘s victory in November, the firm signed a $900,000 agreement with Ecuador’s Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries to help negotiate a free trade deal. Meanwhile El Salvador hired the firm on a year-long, $1.2 million contract in late March 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
Guyana: Last year’s bitter lobbying fight over America’s role in Guyana’s elections has shifted to US-backed electoral reforms in the newly oil-rich South American state. The US Embassy in Georgetown announced on May 5 that it was partnering with the International Republican Institute (IRI) on an 18-month project to strengthen the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Now the APNU+AFC coalition of defeated President David Granger is accusing Washington of helping President Irfaan Ali‘s People’s Progressive Party (PPP) consolidate power after the Donald Trump administration joined with the Caribbean Community last year in calling for Granger to step down despite his claims of voting irregularities.
According to a document shared with Congress and the State Department by Washington lobbying firm JJ&B, opposition leader Joseph Harmon and his colleagues raised several issues about the project during a May 11 meeting with IRI representatives Dorota Ryzy and Sarah Barrat. These include concerns that Ali’s government “intends to use the IRI as an instrument to destroy the democratic processes and fortify themselves in office.” The opposition notably sought details about which civil society organizations IRI plans to work with on electoral reforms and raised questions about the IRI’s board of governors, which includes such Trump allies as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). “Given the active involvement of some of those persons in voter suppression in the USA,” the JJ&B document reads, “Guyanese by and large are suspicious of the IRI and their activity in the eletoral reform process.” The PPP for its part dismissed the accusations as “duplicitous and disingenuous” given the APNU+AFC’s history of support for IRI electoral efforts that benefited Granger in past elections.
The document was shared with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung and the offices of key congressional leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and the chairmen of the House and Senate foreign affairs panels, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). The document was also shared with select members of the Congressional Black Caucus whose constituents include Guyanese-Americans supportive of Granger, including Rep. Hakim Jeffries (D-N.Y.), one of the strongest critics of last year’s Trump administration visa restrictions on Guyanese officials accused of undermining democracy.
Neither JJ&B nor IRI responded to requests for comment.
Japan: The Embassy of Japan has renewed its $152,800-a-year contract with former Republican presidential speechwriter Landon Parvin through March 2021. Parvin, a former speechwriter for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, has provided speechwriting services for the embassy since 2003.
Japan: California nonprofit group Community Partners terminated its $10,000-per-month engagement with the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles effective March 31, 2021. President and CEO Paul Vandeventer had worked for the consulate since 2017 to help the consulate better understand California, America’s wealthiest and most populous state and home to more than a third of all Japanese-Americans. In addition, David Abel had been registered until March 31 as a consultant on the account charged with organizing forums on green energy markets for the VerdeXchange Institute, a sponsored project of Community Partners.
Qatar: RF Binder Partners of New York has registered associate director Alice Murphy as a foreign agent for the Qatar Foundation. Formerly with the Brunswick Group until this March, Murphy will conduct “work related to media outreach and engagement to elevate and promote the public profile of Qatar Foundation within U.S. media around its three core mission areas: education, research, and community development.” She joins nine other people on the account, including CEO Amy Binder.
RF Binder Partners recently renewed its subcontracting agreement with Memac Ogilvy & Mather for public relations work on behalf of the Qatar Foundation. The contract runs from April 1, 2021 through March 2022 and is worth $27,300 per month, down from $30,000 per month under the initial contract last year. The Gulf emirate’s flagship non-profit organization was founded in 1995 by then-emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife Moza bint Nasser.
United Arab Emirates: The United Arab Emirates has hired New York CEO advisory firm Teneo Strategy for “UAE pavilion services” at this fall’s Expo 2020 in Dubai. The firm is to be paid $519,000 for the three months from May through July to develop “communications strategy and plan for host country committee, including advisory, planning and narrative development.” The World Expo, the first to be hosted in the Arab World, is slated to run from October 2021 through March 2022 after being delayed for a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Teneo is conducting the work on behalf of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.
Teneo also disclosed a four-month, $1.33 million extension of its ongoing work for the foundation regarding “consultancy services to support organizational transformation and development” and preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Gulf kingdoms’ union in December 1971. Teneo has represented the foundation dedicated to art, culture and heritage, health, and early childhood development since last spring. Princess Salama is the wife of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, widely considered to be the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates. The initial contract was for $250,000 per month from May 2020 through the end of 2021.
Caught our eye
Christians: Middle East-focused advocacy group In Defense of Christians has just released its list of 12 congressional champions for 2021. They wil be officially awarded at the annual IDC summit on Sept. 21-22. The group spends $10,000 a quarter lobbying on issues including support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, defense of the Egypt Copts and Yazidis in Iraq and an end to the violence in Ethiopia.
This year’s champions are:
- Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.);
- SFRC ranking member Jim Risch (R-Idaho);
- SFRC member Todd Young (R-Ind.);
- SFRC member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.);
- Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.);
- Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.);
- Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas);
- Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.);
- Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.);
- Rep. Scott Perry (R-Penn.);
- Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas); and
- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).
China: A nonprofit affiliated with the late former President George H.W. Bush agreed to accept $5 million from a policy group at the center of China’s U.S. influence efforts, Axios reported over the weekend.