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Ukraine dominates new US lobbying for second month in a row

Ukrainian interests dominated new Washington lobbying for a second month in a row as the Joe Biden administration rethinks US policy towards the eastern European nation, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of filings disclosed with the Department of Justice in August.

The Civil Movement for a Just Ukraine, a Kyiv nonprofit founded by Ukrainian veterans with ties to the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, hired Yorktown Solutions on a 12-month, $960,000 contract to help advance the group’s anti-kleptocracy agenda. The firm founded by Daniel Vajdich, a former adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), has had a $960,000 contract since 2020 with Ukraine’s oil and gas lobby.

In addition to the Yorktown contract, the Ukrainian Federation of Employers of the Oil and Gas Industry last month hired Washington white shoe law firm Arent Fox for $1.26 million and New York PR firm Karv Communications for another $420,000 following Biden’s decision not to stop Russia’s efforts to bypass Ukraine via its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany. The firms are notably tasked with helping improve the Ukrainian oil and gas industry’s image in the US and promote the country’s energy security.

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Meanwhile the United Arab Emirates’ embassy in Washington hired FGH Holdings (Finsbury Glover Hering) in its first new lobbying contract of the Biden era. The $75,000-per-month contract comes as UAE rival Qatar has brought on no fewer than seven new firms since Biden’s election. 

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In other lobbying developments, the Pacific island nation of Palau last month hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to lobby ahead of the 30th anniversary review of its 1994 compact of free association with the United States. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is notably registered as foreign agent on the $40,000-per-month account. Akin Gump also represents the Marshall Islands as it negotiates the renewal of its own compact of free association with the United States in 2023.

Also last month, critics of Liberian President George Weah hired the BW Global Group for $180,000 to introduce potential opposition candidates to US policymakers and media. A longtime Africa lobbyist and an-ex war crimes prosecutor who helped put away former Liberian President Charles Taylor are heading the lobbying and public relations effort.

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And the Malaysian Palm Oil Council hired Washington lobbying firm the DCI Group for $25,000 per month to help improve the southeast nation’s human rights image and policies. Palm oil is a major export for Malaysia, which has come under over allegations of forced labor. 

Finally, the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Ivory Coast has tapped APCO Worldwide to lobby the Biden administration for support for an “engagement program” with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The six-month contract is for €69,000 (around $81,000).

Source: US Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

US firms also disclosed four new public relations contracts in August.

The law firm co-founded by former Bill Clinton counsel Lanny Davis, Davis Goldberg & Galper, told the Justice Department that it had added a PR component to its legal work on behalf of Venezuela’s state-owned oil and gas company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and its Houston refiner Citgo. The company, which is controlled by opposition figure Juan Guaido, is locked in a legal and political fight with Venezuela’s creditors.

In other notable news, a London-based Tunisian diaspora group hired Burson Cohn & Wolfe to represent the interests of the country’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party in its showdown with President Kais Saied.

Source: US Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

Finally, lobbying and PR firms disclosed another $5 million in contract renewals and extensions.

Forbes Tate Partners took the top spot with a three-month, $2.38 million PR contract extension with Hydro Quebec as part of the Canadian public utility’s last-gasp attempt to defeat a November referendum in Maine opposing its proposed $1 billion New England power line project. And the Embassy of Qatar renewed its contract with Sen. Lindsey Graham‘s former deputy chief of staff, Andrew King, and his Neale Creek lobbying shop for $1.2 million over two years.

Source: US Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

Update: This post was updated on Sept. 23 with new information about lobbying by the Liberia Renaissance Office.

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