- Zimbabwe renews with Mercury for 12 months
- Saudi sovereign wealth fund extends PR contract
- Japan drops two firms
- UAE ends Mars mission PR
- Libya’s interim government gains consultant
- Australia miner lobbies on rare earths
- Canada’s canola council lobbies on renewable fuels
- China, Qatar and Russia lead 2020 influence spending
New lobbying filings
Zimbabwe: Mercury Public Affairs has extended its lobbying for Zimbabwe for another year starting May 1 as western powers maintain their sanctions on the south African nation despite the passing of strongman Robert Mugabe. The firm has been working for the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (MFA) as a subcontractor to Mercury International UK since September 2019 and disclosed $813,000 in fees and expenses for its Zimbabwe work in 2020.
Mercury is the only firm still registered to lobby for Zimbabwe in the US after Ballard Partners terminated its registration as of February, claiming $150,000 in unpaid bills. Nine people are registered to lobby on the account, including former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) as well as Vladislava Galan (bio) and George Eli Birnbaum (bio), both managing directors in Mercury’s London office who brought the Zimbabwe account along with them when they left the Donald Trump-connected Avenue Strategies in the summer of 2019. Other lobbyists on the account include Bryan Lanza, Rodney Emery, Thomas Jock McMillan, Morris Reid, Deirdre Stach and Suheyla Tayla. Washington-based consultant William Lon Ogborn left the account in October after being paid $70,000 last year.
The contract extension comes as President Joe Biden renewed sanctions on Zimbabwe for another year in March, claiming an “absence of progress on the most fundamental reforms needed to ensure the rule of law, democratic governance, and the protection of human rights.” President Emmerson Mnangagwa himself is among the targets of US sanctions.
Japan: McGuire Woods Consulting has renewed its public relations engagement on behalf of the Japanese Consulate in Georgia for the 12 months from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022. The contract is for $3,000 per month and consists of “monitoring state and local legislative policy developments and informing the principal of items of possible
interest.” The firm has worked for the consulate since 2015.
Separately, McGuire Woods terminated its lobbying registration for the Embassy of Japan effective March 31. The firm had monitored Virginia political developments and represented the embassy with state officials since 2015. The contract was for $60,000 per year.
Japan: St. Louis public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard terminated its registration for the Embassy of Japan as of March 22. The embassy hired the firm in January to “conduct a review and analysis of the Embassy of Japan’s social media accounts.” The firm was paid $10,000 to compare the account to those of other embassies and provide recommendations.
Libya: Mercury Public Affairs has registered London-based public relations and digital consultant Benjamin Britworth Collier as a foreign agent on its account with Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU). Others on the account include former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and former Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.).
Mercury first registered to lobby for the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) for $2 million per year back in April 2019. Since March 30, 2021, the firm has had a month-to-month contract with its sister company Mercury International UK to represent the GNU, the provisional authority aimed at unifying rival power centers ahead of elections planned for December.
Saudi Arabia: New York strategic communications firm KARV Communications has disclosed a one-month extension of its contract with Saudi Arabia’s $400 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), for the month of April. The contract is worth $120,000 for the month. KARV has represented the PIF, which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, since January 2019. The firm’s previous contract covered the 15 months from January 2020 through March 2021.
United Arab Emirates: Fleishman-Hillard has terminated its foreign agent registration on behalf of the UAE Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future effective March 15. The St. Louis PR firm was hired last year to showcase the Emirates’ missison to Mars, the first by an Arab country.
Australia: Holland & Knight has registered to lobby for Australian rare-earths mining company Lynas Rare Earths as well as its Texas-based US affiliate Lynas USA, effective June 1. Partner Nicholas Leibham (bio) and senior public affairs adviser Kathleen Nicholas (bio) are registered to lobby on “funding for rare earth projects by the US government,” “rare earth supply chain issues,” “industrial base analysis and sustainment” and “Defense Production Act – Title III.” K&L Gates is also registered to lobby for Lynas USA and reported $20,000 in payments in the first quarter.
Canada: The Annapolis-based Gallant Government & Law Group has registered to lobby for the Canola Council of Canada, effective June 14. Firm founder Gary Gallant (bio), a former chief of staff to Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), wil lobby on “EPA regulations implementing the renewable fuel standard.” Franco Environmental Law of Washington is also registered to lobby for the council and disclosed $20,000 in payments in the first quarter.
Caught our eye
China, Qatar and Russia spent the most on political influence activities under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in 2020, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. Much of the increase in disclosed spending is due to Justice Department forcing state-owned news outlets to register under FARA. Read the report here.