Latest filings

Ex-Rep. Royce lobbies for former Libyan interior minister with presidential ambitions; Ashcroft law firm defends accused Jordanian coup plotter; Huawei hires four more influence firms

Welcome to Foreign Lobby Report’s biweekly roundup of all the latest lobbying developments. Every week we go through dozens of filings under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) to offer our readers the most comprehensive snapshot anywhere of the foreign governments, political groups and businesses trying to influence US policymaking and public opinion.

Please send tips, comments and suggestions to [email protected] And make sure to follow us on Twitter @foreign_lobby and @JulianPecquet for all the latest foreign lobbying news.


New lobbying filings

Americas

Haiti: The longtime chief of staff to former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) has formally registered as a foreign agent for the presidential campaign of Haitian businessman Reginald Boulos as politicians jockey for power following last week’s assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Art Estopinan has agreed to promote Boulos’ center-left MTV Ayiti political party with the US government and the Haitian diaspora for six months at $5,000 per month ahead of presidential elections scheduled for this September. Estopinan had previously been registered as a lobbyist for Boulos under the domestic Lobbying Disclosure Act, disclosing $120,000 in payments to promote human rights in Haiti since 2019. He terminated that registration effective May 26.

Two other lobbyists signed on to represent Boulos under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in May. Former Colorado state lawmaker Joe Miklosi (D-Denver) is to be paid $10,000 per month to help generate “public support” and “campaign awareness” from the million-strong Haitian diaspora in the United States, according to Miklosi’s FARA registration. Miklosi also plans to reach out to the Joe Biden administration, Congress and the State Department to share the “urgent need for US support of a new political party in Haiti and the reforms that it will bring.” And Michelle Lyng‘s Denver PR firm Novitas Communications is to be paid $5,000 per month for the purpose of “supporting fundraising“.

Meanwhile Allison Maria Llera of Florida registered as a foreign agent of MTV Ayiti (Movement for the Transformation and Valorization of Haiti) in the fall of 2019 to help with outreach to the Haitian diaspora in the United States but has not disclosed any lobbying activity since then.

In other Haiti news, Mercury Public Affairs has registered public relations and digital consultant Benjamin Britworth Collier on its account with Moise’s government. Collier is expected to provide “media relations services, including print, television, radio, and digital messaging and outreach to U.S. media.” Mercury has represented Haiti since 2018 as a subcontractor to Mercury International UK and disclosed receiving $506,000 for its Haiti work in 2020.

Following Moise’s July 7 assassination, Mercury distributed a letter from Haitian Ambassador to the US Bocchit Edmond to Secretary of State Antony Blinken seeking assistance from the FBI and the Department of Justice in its investigation. Edmond also requested that human rights sanctions be levied against the perpetrators of the attack.

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Peru: A Peruvian free-market group has hired a Washington business lobbyist to advocate for a “review of Peruvian presidential elections” that saw union leader Pedro Castillo of the left-wing Free Peru party garner the most votes in last month’s contest. The Instituto Invertir Libertad in Lima has hired the Altrius Group of William Morley, a former general counsel to former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, effective June 28, according to a new lobbying filing. The firm was paid $5,000 in the second quarter and lobbied both chambers of Congress on the issue. The institute is led by economist Daniel Cordova, who briefly served as minister of production in April 2018 under then-President Martin Vizcarra.

Castillo defeated conservative politician Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, by just 44,000 out of 17.6 million votes, prompting allegations of electoral fraud from her supporters. The new president is supposed to take office on July 28, but the National Jury of Elections has yet to officially declare a winner. Morley also lobbies for the Brazil-US Business Council, the ​Central American Sugar Association and the ​US Chamber of Commerce‘s Global Intellectual Property Center.

Asia

Afghanistan: Squire Patton Boggs has terminated its lobbying registration on behalf of the government of Afghanistan effective June 30, just nine days after registering to help connect President Ashraf Ghani with members of Congress during his recent visit to Washington.

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Japan: Hill & Knowlton Strategies has signed a $900,000 contract with All Nippon Airways to develop a North America campaign to reinvigorate tourism to Japan in 2021. The campaign is funded by the Japan National Tourism Organization. The firm has registered nine people on the acccount:

Japan: APCO Worldwide has registered project assistant Olivia Marcus as a foreign agent providing strategic communicaitons services for the Consulate General of Japan in New York. The firm signed a six-month, $150,000 contract with the consulate in late March to provide communications and media relations services in the US. Along with advising and representing the consulate, the firm is expected to contact the media and other organizations.

South Korea:  Bluetext associate Amanda Christi left the Washington digital marketing agency on March 1, according to a new lobbying filing. She had been a registered foreign agent on the firm’s $5,000-a-month contract with K&L Gates to draft content on the US Korea Connect website on behalf of the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Europe

Greece: Washington law firm Manatos & Manatos helped set up a Feb. 5 meeting between Greek Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), according to a new lobbying filing. The firm is registered to lobby for an informal group of US citizens called the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes. CEO Andrew Manatos is the only agent registered on the account.

United Kingdom: Steptoe & Johnson associate Kate Jensen has left the firm as of earlier this month. She had been registered to help the British Treasury defend a proposed tax on digital services that would impact the US tech sector.

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Middle East

Iran: BGR Government Affairs has registered public relations principal Jo Maney, a former spokeswoman for ex-Rep. David Drier (R-Calif.) and the House Rule Committee, on its account with the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). She joins BGR Public Relations President Jeffrey Birnbaum and senior associate Alex Ellis on the account. The NCRI has hired BGR Government Affairs to promote the group’s annual summit, which runs from July 10 to July 12. The $40,000 contract lasts from June 24 through the end of July but can be extended.

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Jordan: The family of accused Jordanian coup plotter Bassem Awadallah has hired former Attorney General John Ashcroft‘s law firm to lobby on his behalf. A former finance minister and head of the Royal Hashemite Court, Awadallah is accused of conspiring with Prince Hamzah bin Al Hussein to overthrow King Abdullah II, the prince’s half-brother. The Ashcroft Law Firm is providing “legal representation and advocacy” on behalf of Awadallah, according to a newly disclosed lobbying filing that was effective July 8. Registered to lobby on the account are Michael Sullivan, a partner in the Ashcroft Law Firm’s Boston office and former director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Kim West, another partner in the Boston office who served as a trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The engagement has already had some impact, with the conservative Washington Examiner publishing a July 9 op-ed pointing out that Awadallah is a US citizen and calling on the Joe Biden administration to demand that he be granted more due process rights. A verdict in the case is expected today.

Libya: A former Libyan interior minister who is widely reported to be eyeing a presidential run has hired a US lobbying firm as rival politicians begin to beef up their outreach to Washington ahead of elections slated for late December. Fathi Bashagha has hired Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to “assist with promoting free and fair elections in Libya and support for anti-corruption efforts within the financial system and donor-funded programs.” The contract is for $50,000 per month for the seven months from June 29 through Jan. 28, 2022 ($350,000 total) and automatically renews for another 12 months unless otherwise agreed to. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is registered as a foreign agent on the account along with veteran US diplomat Samantha Carl-Yoder and policy director Douglas Maguire.

Originally from the northwestern city of Misrata, Bashagha lost a bid to serve as prime minister of the transitional Government of National Unity (GNU) earlier this year. He told Reuters he survived an assassination attempt in Tripoli in February. As interior minister under the previous Government of National Accord in Tripoli he helped push back the assault on the capital from eastern commander Khalifa Haftar.

Royce joins two other former US lawmakers in lobbying for Libyan interests. Former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and former Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.) are both registered as foreign agents on Mercury Public Affairs‘ contract with the GNU via Mercury International UK.

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Saudi Arabia: Edelman‘s contract with Saudi Arabia’s Neom Company has now been uploaded to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) website. The Chicago-based firm struck a three-month, $236,250 deal back in November to offer strategic counsel, media relations, stakeholder identification and engagement, and content development for Neom. The $500 billion futuristic megacity project is the linchpin of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s Vision 2030 effort to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil exports.

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Saudi Arabia: Emily Bir, formerly a part-time subcontractor for Iowa-based PR firm Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (LS2 Group) working on the firm’s account with Saudi Arabia, has joined the firm full time as of June 28. The Saudi Embassy in Washington hired LS2 in November 2019 for $126,500 per month to build connections with business and political leaders in the US heartland.

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Turkey: The Turkish embassy in Washington has signed a six-month, $545,000 contract with longtime Turkey lobbyist Lydia Borland and her firm LB International Solutions for the second half of 2021. LB previously represented the Turkish embassy as a subcontractor to Capitol Counsel and Greenberg Traurig but those engagements have recently been terminated amid pressure from the Armenian diaspora over Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in last year’s conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. The fee will cover any consultants or subcontractors Borland may hire to aid with her representation.

The contract comes as Turkey has been seeking to rebuild its decimated lobbying operation. Last month Patrick Garvey, a longtime aide to the late Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), registered his new firm Garvey Strategies as a foreign agent for the embassy. Two other firms are also registered as foreign agents for Ankara: The embassy’s longtime Washington law firm Saltzman & Evinch, which the Department of Justice forced to register last year, citing its coordination with lobbying firms; and Amsterdam & Partners, whose focus is on shutting down US charter schools linked to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for the failed coup in 2016.

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United Arab Emirates: American Defense International has renewed its subcontracting agreement with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld on behalf of the UAE Embassy in Washington for another year starting July 1. The contract is for $45,000 per month, the same as before. The firm is tasked with providing “strategic consulting and government relations support including engaging with U.S. policy makers … with an emphasis on strengthening bilateral defense and security relations and regional security of the United Arab Emirates.” ADI has lobbied for the embassy since 2018.


New business lobbying

China

Ant Group: Story Partners has registered to lobby for Chinese ​financial and digital services technology platform the Ant Group effective June 3. Chairwoman Gloria Dittus is registered to lobby on “discussions regarding the company’s fintech businesses and promotion of US exports through the expansion of US merchants’ acceptance globally.” Dittus and Story Partners have lobbied for the Ant Group’s parent company Alibaba since September 2019. The Ant Group disclosed $340,000 in in-house lobbying in the first quarter of 2021 and paid its other lobbying firm, Akin Gump, the same amount.

Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit: Former Steptoe & Johnson partner Douglas Kantor has left the firm and is no longer registered as a foreign agent for the Chinese semiconductor company.

Hikvision: Mercury Public Affairs has registered Managing Director Peter Kucik, a seven-year veteran of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), on its account with the US affiliate of Chinese videosurveillance company Hikvision. The company is on a Pentagon blacklist of companies with Chinese military ties and is accused of posing a cybersecurity risk and enabling human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region. 

Meanwhile BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) has registered Senior Vice President Dom Bartkus on its account with Hikvision USA. The company recently extended its public relations contract with BCW through the end of 2021. BCW has advised Hikvision on public affairs and policy issues, strategic planning and guidance, and media relations since 2018 and disclosed $1.78 million in fees and expenses from the company in 2020.

Huawei: No fewer than four US firms have registered to lobby for Huawei Technologies USA, the US affiliate of the embattled Chinese technology giant, over the past week:

  • Former Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Lee Terry Consulting of Omaha are lobbying on “issues related to telecommunications and infrastructure;”
  • New York-based consulting firm J.S. Held is lobbying on “foreign investment; telecommunications; export controls; trade and economic sanctions; [and the] National Defense Authorization Act;”
  • The LeMunyon Group of Glenn LeMunyon, a former floor manager under House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas), is lobbying on “issues related to telecommunications and infrastructure;” and
  • The law office of Stephen James Binhak in Miami is lobbying on “foreign investment; telecommunications; export controls; trade and economic sanctions; [and the] National Defense Authorization Act.”

They join Steptoe & Johnson and Sidley Austin as active lobbying firms representing Huawei. Meanwhile Racepoint Global, Ruder Finn and ADLAB are providing public services to the company. Huawei Technologies USA reported $180,000 in in-house lobbying in the first quarter of 2021, up from $70,000 in Q4 2020.

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France

CMA CGM: The US affiliate of French transportation logistics company CMA CGM has hired Van Scoyoc Associates to lobby on “Maritime, Transportation and Logistics related issues.” The registration was effective June 21.

Germany

Uniper: FTI Government Affairs has registered to lobby for Chicago-based Uniper Global Commodities North America regarding “legislative and regulatory issues related to Uniper and its work in energy supply, services and management in the United States,” effective July 8. The hiring comes weeks after the company registered an in-house lobbying arm for the first time. The company is a subsidiary of Germany’s Uniper, one of five energy companies with which Nord Stream 2 AG has signed financing agreements for the construction of a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

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