Latest filings

Libya’s Haftar hires Washington lobbying team; Bahaa Hariri courts US in Lebanon political play; Ethiopia hires Mercury amid US pressure over Tigray

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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Top story

Former Robert Livingston (R-La.) and political consultant Lanny Davis have teamed up to represent eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar as he eyes a presidential run, Foreign Lobby Report has learned.

The contract comes as rival Libyan politicians have been stepping up their outreach to Congress and the Joe Biden ahead of elections scheduled for Dec. 24.

Read the story here.


New lobbying filings

Africa

Ethiopia: The Ethiopian government has hired Mercury Public Affairs to beef up its Washington lobbying presence amid growing pressure from Congress and the Joe Biden administration over the violence in Tigray. Mercury previously registered to lobby for a new US Ethiopian diaspora group, the American Ethiopia Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC), which supports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and its allies.

Read our story from Friday here.

RELATED:
House bill on Ethiopia violence sparks rival diaspora lobbying

Liberia: The office of Liberian President George Weah has hired three US lobbying and PR firms for a total of $660,000 per year to help deepen relations with Congress, the Joe Biden administration and the US public. The West African country next year will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first freed US slaves who would eventually declare the independent state of Liberia in 1847. The following firms have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for their work on behalf of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and the Liberian Embassy in Washington:

  • Washington lobbying firm Ice Miller Strategies, which is owned by Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller, was hired for $300,000 per year for three years to lobby Congress, the executive branch and “US-based multilateral organizations that have interests and stakes in the Republic’s economic and national security interests.” The firm will also help with media outreach “with a focus on elevating the profile of Liberia’s Reunion Bicentennial, tourism, and culture with Black Americans.” Registered on the account are partners Jarrod Loadholt and Guillermo Christensen and principal Timothy Day.
  • Strom Public Affairs of CNN analyst Bakari Sellers in Columbia, South Carolina will be paid $120,000 per year for three years to produce a “US media and press engagement strategy for the Republic, President Weah, and key officials to raise Liberia’s profile in U.S. media and bring positive attention to the Republic with American and African American audiences.”
  • Finally, Carbon Thread Agency of Atlanta, Georgia, has been hired for $240,000 for a one-year engagement to create a “comprehensive brand, digital, and creative plan for the republic and President Weah with a focus on elevating the profile of Liberia’s reunion Bicentennial, tourism, and culture with Black Americans.” CEO and founder Brian Fitch is registered as a foreign agent on the account.

Americas

Canada: Calgary PR firm Copithorne & Blakely Corporation (aka C&B Advertising) has registered under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for a US public relations campaign “to encourage greater cross-border importation of Canadian energy products into the United States.” The work is being conducted on behalf of the the Canadian Energy Centre, an independent corporation established and supported by the provincial government of Alberta. The contract has a maximum budget of $100,000 and includes plans for billboard and digital advertising in New York’s Times Square. It was effective Aug. 20 and runs through Dec. 31, 2022. C&B co-founders Phil Copithorne and Leigh Blakely are registered as foreign agents on the account.

Alberta is a part-owner of the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Joe Biden nixed on the first day of his presidency. The province has retained former Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.) of Crossroads Strategies for outreach to the administration.

RELATED:
Canada province braces for fight with Biden over Keystone Pipeline

Asia

Afghanistan: Covington & Burling has registered to lobby on “outreach activities to assist client in the emergency evacuation of his family from Afghanistan” on behalf of Muqbel Mosazei, a private citizen residing in Germany.

Bangladesh: The Embassy of Bangladesh has hired New York political consultant Ezra Friedlander and his Brooklyn firm the Friedlander Consulting Group to help “arrange meetings and exchanges between the top leaders of US and Bangladesh.” The $40,000 contract runs for one month, from Sept. 5 to Oct. 5, and coincides with the expected address of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed to the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 25. Friedlander is best know for his lobbying on behalf of Congressional Gold Medals for actors in Middle East peace efforts including the late presidents Shimon Peres of Israel and Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt.

The government of Bangladesh also has a $25,000-per-month contract with BGR Government Affairs, which has represented the embassy since 2013. And last month the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute hired a former chief of staff to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Hutton of Conewago Consulting (d/b/a Hutton Strategies), to help arrange meetings on Capitol Hill on behalf of the Bangladeshi government.

RELATED:
Former Menendez chief of staff lobbies for Bangladesh

India: The US affiliate of Indian drug company Lupin has hired Milne, Wiener & Shofe Global Strategies to lobby regarding “advocacy for US production of key pharmaceuticals necessary to support the US supply chain related to pandemic preparedness and prevention.”

Marshall Islands: International Registries Inc. of Reston, Virginia has added Senior Vice President for Investigations Hans Molver and Vice President for Maritime Security Evan Curt as foreign agents for the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The company has administered maritime and offshore corporate programs of the Marshall Islands since 1991.

Europe

Monaco: New Jersey consultant Jane Hoffman has registered as a foreign agent for her work “raising the profile of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation as it pertains to the annual Monte Carlo Gala for Planetary Health.” The contract is for $25,000 and last from Sept. 1 through the end of October.

Russia: Russia’s state-run Rossiya Segodnya news agency has signed a $6.7 million contract with Washington, DC production company Ghebi to create radio and web content for its Sputnik multimedia platform, up from $5.2 million last year. The contract runs from Sept. through Aug. 31, 2022. Ghebi was incorporated in September 2019 by Mindia Gavasheli, the editor-in-chief of RIA Global, another US production company working for Sputnik. The only registered agent on the account is Christopher Pyburn, the managing director for RIA Global.

READ MORE:
Russian news outlet inks $5.2 million deal with DC production company

Middle East

Bahrain: The BGR Group is inviting lawmakers to publicly mark the arrival of Bahrain’s first ambassador to Israel last week following last year’s signing of the Abraham Accords. “We would appreciate your boss releasing a statement recognizing the historic arrival of Ambassador Khaled Al Jalahma in Israel as a signal of the commitment to greater cooperation and the strengthening of ties in the U.S.’s national interest,” the firm wrote in an email to congressional offices.

Egypt: APCO Worldwide has signed a $10,000 contract with the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation to promote US media coverage of the inaugural Egypt-International Cooperation Forum this month. The forum runs Sept. 8 and 9 under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the subject of “partnerships to achieve sustainable development.” Representatives from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the African Development Bank Group, and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development as well as government official from Africa, Asia and Latin America are expected to attend in-person and virtually. PR consultant Abigail Rollins is registered as a foreign agent on the account.

RELATED:
Egypt assembles bipartisan powerhouse lobbying team for post-Trump era

Lebanon: Lebanese-Saudi billionaire businessman Bahaa Hariri has retained the services of an international strategic and political campaign consultancy for outreach to Congress and the Joe Biden administration as he eyes a greater role in the public life of the beleaguered country. The Washington office of Australian lobbying firm C|T Group has registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for outreach to the departments of State, Defense and Treasury, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other foreign assistance agencies, and members of Congress and committees with oversight over “the Middle East generally and specifically with regard to Lebanon.” The contract with the London-based C|T Solutions and Private Advisory is for $50,000 per month and lasts one year starting Aug. 24. C|T Washington Managing Director Lawrence Grossman, Director of Campaigns and Communications Price Floyd and consultant Lara Alameh are registered as foreign agents on the account.

Hariri is the oldest son of assassinated Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the brother of former PM Saad Hariri. While the elder Hariri has long eschewed politics to focus on his Horizon Group investment firm, he has been playing a more public role over the past two years. He vocally supports the anti-corruption protests that have raged since 2019 and laid out his political differences with his brother in an interview with Axios last year in which he rejected any cooperation with the militia-cum-political party Hezbollah, which the United States considers to be a terrorist group.

READ MORE:
Lebanese-Americans step up advocacy as country crumbles

Libya: Former Libyan interior minister turned presidential hopeful Fathi Bashagha has hired Washington lobbying firm the BGR Group after parting ways with Brownstein Hyatt under unclear circumstances earlier this summer.

Read our story from Friday here.

RELATED:
Libya taps US law firms to help recover billions in assets stolen by Gadhafi

Qatar: RF Binder Partners has registered associate Emily High as a foreign agent for the Qatar Foundation. The firm has represented the foundation as a subcontractor to Memac Ogilvy & Mather since April 2020.

United Arab Emirates: FGH Holdings (formerly the Glover Park Group) has deregistered partner Victoria Esser as a foreign agent for the UAE mission to the United Nations.

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