Latest filings

Ex-Rep. Royce lobbies Blinken, Coons for DR Congo politician; Haiti hires lobbyist for congressional visit; Brownstein drops Libyan presidential candidate

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.

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ICYMI: Law firm for jailed Saudi royals launches US lobby campaign

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman attends the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires on Nov. 20, 2018 / Photo by Matias Lynch via Shutterstock

In case you missed our exclusive from Friday, US lobby shop Mercury Public Affairs is now representing Saudi Arabia’s imprisoned royals in Washington. The plan is to get US and European lawmakers to join hands at a September gathering in Europe to demand their release.

Read the full story here.


New lobbying filings

Mercury Public Affairs: Behavioral economist William Lon Ogborn, a veteran of the State Department in Iraq, has joined Mercury Public Affairs as a vice president in its Washington office. Ogborn is registered as a foreign agent for the governments of Haiti, Libya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. He previously lobbied for Zimbabwe as a Mercury consultant until October 2020 and was paid $70,000 for that work last year, according to previous Mercury filings with the Department of Justice.

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Africa

Angola: The office of Angolan President Joao Lourenco has renewed its contract with Squire Patton Boggs for another year, from June 18, 2021 through June 17, 2022. The renewal is for $3.75 million for the year, up from $2.5 million last year but still down from the $4.1 million in the original contract from 2019. The firm is tasked with:

  • Preparing for the “Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation, and other steps necessary to improve Angola’s financial sector and resume correspondent banking relationships”;
  • Increasing US trade and investment;
  • Enhancing Angola’s profile in the United States; and
  • Providing strategic communications advice.

Unless either party provides a notice of termination on or before June 17, 2022, the contract will renew on June 18, 2022 for a second year. The renewal was signed by Squire Patton Boggs partner Robert Kapla and Angolan Secretary for Diplomatic Affairs and International Cooperation Victor Manuel Ritia da Fonseca Lima. The firm has six other people registered as foreign agents on the contract in addition to Kapla: Thomas Andrews, Pablo CarrilloRory MurphyDavid SchnittgerJames Sivon and David Stewart.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) has joined the lobbying team for Congolese politician Moise Katumbi as the millionaire businessman restarts his US influence campaign ahead of the 2023 elections. A policy director with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Royce is the sole registered foreign agent on the firm’s subcontracting agreement with King & Spalding, which signed a €40,000 per month (around $48,500) contract with Katumbi last month (see our story here). Brownstein’s contract with King & Spalding is for $20,000 per month for the five months until Dec. 14, “unless the period is extended in writing.”

According to a new disclosure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Royce is to help “arrange meetings with policymakers and decision-makers in Congress and the Biden Administration with the goal of strengthening legal, economic, and social cooperation between the US and the Democratic Republic of Congo.” He already met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close ally of President Joe Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, last week to discuss “promotion of free and fair elections in the DRC.”

A former governor of Katanga province in the southeast who made a fortune in mining and other industries, Katumbi fled the Democractic Republic of the Congo in 2016 after being accused of hiring foreign mercenaries following his announcement that he was running for president against incumbent Joseph Kabila. He backed Martin Fayulu in the 2018 election won by current President Felix Tshisekedi and returned from exile in Belgium in 2019 following Kabila’s departure from power.

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Americas

Haiti: Haiti’s new ambassador to Washington Bocchit Edmond hired a New Jersey lobbyist with ties to Africa last month to help organize a congressional visit and help boost US foreign direct investment (FDI) to the Caribbean country, according to a newly disclosed lobbying filing. The contract with Luis Aleman and his firm LFA Holdings is dated June 22, two weeks before President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7. While the contract itself does not specify terms, a separate filing for Aleman himself says he is to be paid $200,000 over eight months. LFA Holdings and the Embassy of Haiti in Washington did not respond to a request for comment about the status of the engagement in light of the turmoil following Moise’s death.

According to the contract, LFA’s work scope “includes but is not necessarily limited to show support for a US Congressional Visit. LFA will also help strengthen relations with the private sector for FDI opportunities.” The firm’s registration with the US Department of Justice says he will also organize meetings with members of Congress “to discuss Haiti’s governance and transparency initiatives and its ability to meet all US benchmarks with US assistance.”

Aleman is the sole registered foreign agent on the account. Aleman’s LinkedIn page lists him as the managing director of Ethiopian Wild Coffee, a specialty import/export company. He was previously registered to lobby for the embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including helping to organize meetings for President Felix Tshisekedi during his April 2019 visit to Washington, and most recently registered to help organize a possible Washington visit for embattled Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, aka Farmaajo.

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Asia

Japan: Hill & Knowlton Strategies has registered senior account executive Anabelle Bacon of its new $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 Japanese National Tourism Organization.

Myanmar: Ari Ben-Menashe has amended his lobbying disclosure for his short-lived contract representing Myanmar’s military junta to note that his firm Dickens & Madson Canada “engaged in public relations and humanitarian work” for the junta. Ben-Menashe terminated the contract effective May 11 because he couldn’t obtain the US and Canadian sanctions waivers needed to legally receive the $2 million he was due.

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Taiwan: Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington has renewed its lobbying contract with the Nickles Group of former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) for the six months from July 1 through the end of the year. The contract is for $20,000 per month, the same as previously. The firm has provided legislative strategy and government affairs services for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) since 2013.

Middle East

Libya: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has terminated its lobbying contract on behalf of former Libyan interior minister and presidential hopeful Fathi Bashagha almost as soon as it began. The firm signed a seven-month, $50,000-a-month contract with Bashagha effective June 29 but terminated it on July 9, according to a new lobbying filing. The firm was supposed to “assist with promoting free and fair elections in Libya and support for anti-corruption efforts within the financial system and donor-funded programs.” Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) had been registered as a foreign agent on the account along with veteran US diplomat Samantha Carl-Yoder and policy director Douglas Maguire.

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Qatar: Qatar’s Government Communications Office has renewed its contract with communications firm Portland PR for 18 months from July 1 through the end of 2022. The contract is for $20,000 per month, the same as previously, for a total of $360,000. Portland PR has represented the Qatari office since 2018 and is tasked with providing:

  • “Messaging and communications materials for key audiences / stakeholders;”
  • “Briefing papers, Q&A, talking points, speeches as requested;” and
  • “Assistance with media relations activities.”

Business lobbying

China (Hikvision): BCW (Burson Cohn Wolfe) has registered account director Joseph Lenahan as a foreign agent for Hikvision USA, the US affiliate of the Chinese video-surveillance giant. 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.

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Caught our eye

Chinese media are the latest to question foreign donor influence on US think tanks, in this case regarding Taiwanese support for pro-Taiwan groups such as the Project 2049 Institute.

The New York Times has new details on influence firms representing Israeli spyware company the NSO Group, which is accused of helping authoritarian governments spy on journalists, dissidents and human rights advocates. Daniel Shapiro, who served as ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, and Washington strategic consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies reportedly consulted for the company.

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