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House bill on Ethiopia violence sparks rival diaspora lobbying; Turkey-US business groups press Biden and Erdogan to reconcile; Liberia pays 40% more for shipping registry lobbying

House bill on Ethiopia violence sparks rival diaspora lobbying

Protesters demonstrate in Washington, DC against the military conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Province on Nov. 9, 2020 / Phil Pasquini via Shutterstock

A pending House resolution denouncing human rights abuses in Ethiopia has sparked a flurry of lobbying by rival diaspora groups after a similar resolution sailed through the Senate late last month.

Advocates for specific ethnic groups are lobbying for attacks on their communities to be highlighted in the new bill from Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee panel on Africa. Meanwhile the Denver-based Ethiopian American Civic Council (EACC), which bills itself as the largest and most diverse diaspora group in the country, has brought on three Colorado public affairs professionals in recent weeks to help push back against bipartisan criticism of the government’s response to the violence in Tigray.

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Liberia: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has extended its contract with the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry for $14,100 per month starting June 1, up from $10,000 per month previously. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), a Brownstein policy director, leads the engagement with the US company that manages Liberia’s ship registry. Also registered as foreign agents on the account are veteran US diplomat and Brownstein policy director Samantha Carl-Yoder and former House and Senate Armed Services staffer Sean Callahan.

Royce also recently started lobbying for the Liberia Maritime Authority, the public corporation that manages all commercial activities within the West African nation’s maritime domain. That contract is for $25,000 per month from April 23 through Aug. 23. Liberia is the world’s second most popular “flag of convenience”, behind only Panama, allowing more than 3,700 foreign-owned ships to register under its flag. The country has long battled what it calls the “outdated” reputation for poor safety records and tax dodging associated with the flag of convenience term.

Liberia taps Washington firm for African-American outreach


Japan: The Consulate General of Japan in Boston has renewed its $10,000-a-year contract with The Policy Agency of Portsmouth, New Hampshire for one year starting April 1. The firm writes monthly reports and sets up meetings for Consulate officials in New England. Firm owner Anne Smith Caparso, a former deputy director of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, is the only registered agent on the account, which began in 2014.

Middle East

Qatar: Qatar lobby shop Nelson Mullins helped distribute a statement from the Federation of African Journalists slamming the United Arab Emirates for allegedly trying to “manipulate” African journalists into negative coverage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The two countries are bitter regional rivals, and the UAE has allegedly been pushing reports of immigrant labor abuses in Qatar as part of a campaign to relocate the event.

Qatar hires US firm for support carving out its own airspace ahead of World Cup

Saudi Arabia: The Iowa-based Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (LS2 Group) has transitioned two people off its account with the Saudi Embassy in Washington: senior account manager Nickalaus Boeyink and account coordinator Brooke Miller. The Saudi embassy hired LS2 in November 2019 for $126,500 per month to help with outreach to the US heartland amid bipartisan criticism of Riyadh in Washington.

The firm has since hired a bevy of consultants and subcontractors across the United States (see Foreign Lobby Report map below).

Read more:
Saudi Arabia looks West after Midwest lobby push

Turkey: The Turkish chairmen of the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK) and AmCham Turkey wrote to US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to urge them to reset bilateral relations for the good of the two countries’ economies ahead of their meeting next week, the first since Biden’s election.

“As you prepare for your first direct meeting since the last U.S. presidential election, we would kindly request you to pay heed to the benefits and opportunities of this vitally important relationship,” the letter states. “Highlighting the areas in which our two countries cooperate can provide space to start resolving some of the more pressing differences we face and thus turn a page. Business is something we do well together, so we hope you will use this as a platform from which to build common ground in your upcoming meeting.”

The letter was distributed by Mercury Public Affairs, which has a $1 million-a-year contract representing the interests of TAIK and the Turkish Ministry of Economy.

Caught our eye

Bulgaria: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favor of a Bulgarian businessman accused of tax fraud and money laundering. Former State Department official Marshall Harris and his firm Alexandria Group International have lobbied for Minyu Staykov since last year. The Joe Biden administration sanctioned several Bulgarian officials last week for “significant government corruption,” which includes allegations of preying on private businesses.

Bulgarian alcohol empire accused of ripping off EU funds hires US lobby shop