- Ukraine gas lobby picks up ex-congressman in fight against Russian pipeline
- Liberia ship registry hires DLA Piper for sanctions work
- Huawei hires fifth lobbying firm of 2021
- Ivory Coast lobbies US for OECD program
- Taiwan renews with Meeks aide’s firm
- Paris school hires PR to promote Piketty-backed inequality report in US
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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New lobbying filings
Ivory Coast: The Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Ivory Coast has tapped APCO Worldwide to lobby the Joe Biden administration for support for an “engagement program” with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The six-month contract was effective July 14 and is for €69,000 (around $81,000). The firm is tasked with providing “strategic communications services, stakeholder engagement services, and stakeholder relations services within the United States.”
The contract is being handled out of APCO’s European offices. Roi Feder, the managing director of APCO’s London office and head of the firm’s geopolitical practice, signed the contract alongside Finance Minister Adama Coulibaly. And Nicholas Whyte (bio), a senior director in APCO’s Brussels office, is the sole registered agent on the contract.
The Ivory Coast government has two other active lobbying contracts, with FGH Holdings (formerly the Glover Park Group) and JWI (Jefferson Waterman International). Former US ambassador to Ivory Coast Phillip Carter III is registered as a subcontractor on the FGH account.
Liberia: The US company that manages Liberia’s ship registry has brought on two former US sanctions officials for help with “sanctions, compliance, international trade, and strategic business growth advice.” Robert Richard Newcomb (bio), a former longtime director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and David Peyman (bio) a deputy assistant secretary of State for Counter Threat Finance and Sanctions under President Donald Trump, are lobbying on DLA Piper‘s new contract with the Virginia-based Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR). The firm is charging hourly rates.
The registry hired DLA Piper back in early June for legal and business consulting services but the firm just filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as it looks to start lobbying. Political activities are expected to include communications with Congress and the Joe Biden administration regarding the registry’s “sanctions compliance efforts and support for U.S. national security policy, as well as concerns related to OECD and European Union anti-money laundering and tax policies as they apply to Open Flag Registers.”
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.
DLA Piper joins Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has been lobbying for the registry since February 2020. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is registered on the Brownstein account along with veteran US diplomat Samantha Carl-Yoder. Brownstein also began lobbying directly for the Liberia Maritime Authority, the public corporation that manages all commercial activities within the West African nation’s maritime domain, in April of this year.
China: Huawei Technologies USA has hired its fifth lobbying firm of 2021 as the Joe Biden administration continues the crackdown begun under Donald Trump. Imperium Global Advisors of Potomac, Maryland is lobbying on “telecommunications and trade issues” effective July 2. Registered to lobby on the account is founding partner Brian McLaughlin, a former research assistant for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
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China: Thunderbolt Consulting of Richmond, Texas has registered with the US Department of Justice to act as the US representative for Chinese manufacturer Qingdao Masters of Rubber & Plastic. Thunderbolt President Gary Snow is to be paid $6,000 per month plus a commission to serve as the company’s intermediary with its clients and customers in the US. Qingdao is part of Poland’s Sanok Rubber Group.
Japan: The New York-based Ogilvy Group has registered three new employees on its contract with the Embassy of Japan in Washington: program managers Nanaka Suzuki; and Carol Cardenas and account supervisor Cara Meadows-Smith. Ogilvy signed a one-year, $282,000 extension to its contract with the Embassy of Japan back in April. The firm is tasked with developing and maintaining a public affairs and communications strategy on behalf of the embassy.
Taiwan: Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington has renewed its $15,000-a-month lobbying contract with the Empire Consulting Group of Mike McKay, a former aide to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.). The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) first hired the firm in January. Eulice Brandon Garrett, a former chief of staff to Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.)., is also registered to lobby on the contract. Empire also began representing the Embassy of Qatar in March.
France: The Paris School of Economics has hired a Florida public relations firm to secure US media coverage the 2022 edition of the World Inequality Report. The six-and-a-half month contract with Top of Mind Public Relations is for €5,000 (around $5,900) and terminates in mid-December. Firm president Paola Iuspa and vice president Jessica Forres are registered on the account. The report is produced by the World Inequality Lab located at the school, whose executive committee includes left-wing academic Thomas Piketty.
Ukraine: Washington law firm Arent Fox has added former Rep. Philip English (R-Penn.) (bio) and Daniel Sjostedt, a former aide to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), to its new $1.26 million account with the Ukrainian Federation of Employers of the Oil and Gas Industry (UFEOGI). The pair will provide “advice on legal matters and policy-related matters” as well as “outreach” to the US government. They join Jasmine Zaki (bio), an associate attorney with the firm, on the account. David Tafuri (bio), a partner in the firm’s trade and investment group who recently joined Arent Fox from Dentons, is identified as a point of contact for the contract but is only expected to provide legal services that do not require registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The Ukrainians hired Arent Fox in mid-July for one year to provide “legal advisory and U.S. government relations services” as the country deals with the Joe Biden administration’s decision not to block Russia’s gas pipeline to Germany. This includes legal advice “on the US Government’s position going forward on Nord Stream 2” and on “US sanctions and US sanctions policy.” Two weeks earlier the federation hired New York-based Karv Communications for help “improving the image of the oil and gas industry of Ukraine” and “promoting energy security issues in the US economic and political media,” including “Nord Stream 2 related sanctions.” That contract is for $420,000 and runs for seven months, from July 1 through Jan. 31, 2022.
The federation has also retained the services of Yorktown Solutions, a firm led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) 2016 campaign adviser Daniel Vajdich, for $960,000 per year since January 2020 to lobby Congress (Yorktown lobbied for Ukraine’s largest national oil and gas company Naftogaz before that). Earlier this year Yorktown hired former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staffer Brittany Beaulieu and added her to the account.
Turkey: Mercury Public Affairs has brought on public relations and digital consultant Benjamin Britworth Collier on its account with the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK). Collier is expected to provide “strategic consulting and management services, including public relations and business diplomacy services” as well as outreach to US-based media. He is also registered as a foreign agent for the Turkey-allied transitional Government of National Unity (GNU) in Libya and the government of Haiti.
Mercury has represented TAIK since 2018 and signed a $1 million contract renewal for 2021 after dropping a separate contract with the Turkish government amid intense pressure from the Armenian diaspora. The new contract specifies that Turkish Ministry of Economy is to play an “active and direct role” in Mercury’s work for TAIK.