- Australians tap ex-Marine commander for DoD support against China
- Greenberg Traurig veterans lobby for Mexico
- Saudi sovereign wealth fund hires New York’s Teneo for $2.7 million
- British online ID company starts in-house lobbying arm
- Ethiopia lobbyists shed doubt on massacre reports
- Anti-Saudi group launches lobbyist hall of shame
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
Ethiopia: Lobbyists for Ethiopia are helping Addis Ababa cast doubts about reports of dozens of bodies, some with their hands bound, being found in the Setit river downstream from Humera, where Ethiopian forces and their allies have been accused of abuses against Tigrayan civilians. Mercury Public Affairs, which registered to lobby for the Ethiopian government late last month, distributed government talking points arguing that it’s not clear where the bodies entered the river.
“The Government of Ethiopia is actively looking into these allegations to establish a clear understanding of the facts,” a government spokesman said in a statement carried by Mercury . “In light of several inconsistencies in the allegations, we are working with the relevant authorities to gather evidence and will prosecute any individuals found to have committed crimes to the fullest extent of the law. The government is keen to reiterate our desire to ensure a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Tigray and is actively working to secure a ceasefire.”
Meanwhile the Amhara Association of America (AAA) has been working with members of Congress to highlight reports that at least 125 villagers were massacred in Ethiopia’s Amhara region earlier this month. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and committee member Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) issued statements of concern, along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Africa subcommittee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and committee member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“These statements are the result of AAA’s continued advocacy efforts with Congress,” AAA Chairman Tewodrose Tirfe told Foreign Lobby Report in an emailed statement via lobbying firm Lobbyit. “The United States is starting to acknowledge atrocities against Amhara civilians by the TPLF [Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front], OLA [Oromo Liberation Front], and other armed groups. We look forward to continued engagement with bipartisan, bicameral legislators and the Biden Administration. “
|Ethiopia hires Mercury amid US pressure over Tigray
|House bill on Ethiopia violence sparks rival diaspora lobbying
Mexico: Mexican steel product manufacturer and supplier Deacero has registered as a foreign agent of the Mexican government providing pro bono advice on “efforts to strengthen the US-Mexico bilateral relationship, the implementation of the USMCA [US-Mexico-Canada Agreement], and other issues of importance to Mexico.” The oral agreement with Mexico’s new ambassador to Washington, Esteban Moctezuma, dates back to May 2021, according to a new Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing. Irwin Altschuler, the chairman of Greenberg Traurig‘s Global Trade and Investment Practice, is registered as a foreign agent on the account along with Greenberg shareholder Alan Slomowitz. This is the first lobbying registration on behalf of the embassy since Brownstein Hyatt and the Raben Group terminated their registrations in March 2019.
Deacero also registered an in-house lobbying arm earlier this month under the domestic Lobbying Disclosure Act. The registration was effective May 11 and covers “administrative and legislative monitoring on issues impacting the US steel manufacturing industry including tariffs and supply chain issues” and “administrative and legislative monitoring related to the implementation of the USMCA.” Altschuler and Slomowitz are also registered as lobbyists on that account. Deacero previously retained Greenberg Traurig to lobby on the USMCA and steel and aluminum tariffs from June 2018 to the end of last year.
Australia: Retired Marine Lt. Gen. John Eric Wissler has registered as a foreign agent for the government of Australia’s Northern Territory Government (NT) as the region emerges as a key US ally against rising Chinese influence and threats in the Indo-Pacific. A former commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Command, Wissler has been providing strategic advice to the northern territory since April 2019 but is only now registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as his mission evolves. “Moving forward, the NT desires that I accompany them in visits to US Department of Defense officials to include uniformed personnel and thus my filing for foreign agent status,” he told the US Department of Justice FARA unit.
The Northern Territory Government recently extended its engagement with Wissler for another 12 months through August 2022, for a maximum of $2,500 per day. Andrew Cowan, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer for the Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet, signed for Australia. Wissler is expected to engage with the US Department of Defense “regarding the value of the NT training ranges and infrastructure in order to secure US DoD investments in … NT defense-related air, sea, land, space and cyberspace opportunities.”
Wissler spelled out the Northern Territory’s strategic importance in countering China in another filing that details “Australia’s capability to effectively train, sustain, and coordinate allied and partner nation military forces far enough away from direct Chinese influence, but close enough to impact Chinese actions in the region. Growing state of the art ranges; port facilities; growing highspeed, reduced latency, secure communications; ever increasing cyber capabilities and partnerships; a growing space capability; and a growing industrial base make the Australian North a key piece of the strategic geography of the Indo-Pacific.”
Malaysia: The DCI Group in Washington has tapped its longtime London consultant Keith Newman and his firm Arbitre Communications Limited as a foreign agent on its new contract with the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. Newman will provide “public policy counsel … in support of [the council’s] efforts to improve the labor and human rights policies
and practices in Malaysia.”
The council hired the DCI Group last month to provide “public policy counsel … in support of its efforts to improve the labor and human rights policies and practices of Malaysia.” The $25,000-per-month contract runs from Aug. 17 through July 31, 2022. Palm oil is a major export for Malaysia, which has come under over allegations of forced labor.
Palau: Palau’s new lobbying team at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has wasted no time getting its message out, highlighting a Sept. 8 piece in Foreign Policy that reports on congressional calls to name a presidential envoy to handle association talks with the Pacific island nations of Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. The piece warns that exclusive US military access to the islands is on the line as China continues to expand in the region.
The government of Palau hired Akin Gump last month for $40,000 per month ahead of the 30th anniversary review of its 1994 compact of free association with the United States in 2024. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is one of seven registered foreign agents on the account. Akin Gump also represents the Marshall Islands as it negotiates the renewal of its own compact of free association in 2023.
South Korea: Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has registered partner and public policy team leader Elizabeth Moeller (bio) as a foreign agent for the Corporate Association of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (CAGIC), a South Korean business group that hopes to restart economic cooperation with North Korea. The firm signed a 10-month, $675,000 contract with CAGIC in July.
|South Koreans tap former congressman to lobby for US sign-off on economic cooperation with Pyongyang
Meanwhile Brownstein Hyatt has registered newly hired policy analyst Zachary Marshall as a foreign agent for the South Korean government. The South Korean Embassy in Washington hired the firm for $30,000 per month in January.
|South Korea hires former lawmakers Royce, Begich amid tensions with US over China, N. Korea
Egypt: Brownstein Hyatt has registered newly hired policy analyst Zachary Marshall as a foreign agent for the Egyptian government. He joins a star-studded team including former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and former Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) on the account. The Embassy of Egypt signed a $65,000-per-month contract with Brownstein last fall shortly after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump, who had shielded President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi‘s government from congressional criticism over human rights abuses.
The Egyptian government has hired two more firms since then for lobbying and PR help, Holly Strategies Incorporated and APCO Worldwide, while Marathon Strategies conducted PR work for Brownstein in April and May.
|Egypt assembles bipartisan powerhouse lobbying team for post-Trump era
|Egypt taps former top Armed Services aide as Dems weigh military aid cuts
Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s $400 billion sovereign wealth fund has signed a pair of contracts worth a combined $2.7 million with New York CEO advisory fund Teneo Strategy as it looks to inspire investor confidence amid lingering criticism of the country’s policies.
In case you missed it, you can read our story from last week here.
United Kingdom (Onfido):The US subsidiary of British online identity verification company Onfido has registered an in-house lobbying arm, effective Aug. 2. Amy Shuart Gingrich, a former House Ways and Means staffer, will lobby on “digital identity, privacy [and] government IT” for Delaware-based Onfido Inc.
Caught our eye
The Jamal Khashoggi-inspired Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) has launched a lobbyist hall of shame. Its first members are Squire Patton Boggs (SPB) lobbyists for the Saudi Center for Studies and Media Affairs, whose former head, Saud al-Qahtani, was sanctioned by the Donald Trump administration in 2018 for his alleged role in Khashoggi’s murder. SPB has been registered as a foreign agent for the center since 2016 but hasn’t disclosed any lobbying on its behalf since 2017 even as it continues to be paid for legal advice.
Meanwhile Business Insider has a detailed account of the sudden fall from grace of Ali Shihabi, the founder of the now-defunct Arabia Foundation in Washington and media-savvy defender of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman whose independent streak appears to have rubbed Riyadh the wrong way.