Latest filings

Journalist Rothkopf paid $1.6 million for UAE podcasts; Qatar renews $1,000-an-hour PR contract; FARA says regime change advocates don’t need to register

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

The US Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) unit released six new advisory opinions this week (h/t @aaronjschaffer). The opinions offer guidance to individuals and firms that seek guidance on whether they need to register as foreign agents. In its latest guidance, the FARA office determined that:

  • A group that “works with individuals both within the U.S. and overseas … to oppose, and eventually replace” a foreign government does not need to register;
  • A US law firm’s “advocacy on legal remedies for removal of sanctions” on a foreign company is exempt from registration under the law’s exemption for legal representation work;
  • A firm working to help governments qualify for Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) would need to register;
  • An agent conducting administrative and financial activities on behalf of a foreign estate doesn’t have to register;
  • A foreign commercial investment company doesn’t have to register to seek information and insights from US private and public sector organizations; and
  • An agent for a foreign corporation lobbying the U.S. government on legal matters must register.

Africa

Ethiopia: Mercury Public Affairs has registered John Tomlin (bio), a senior vice president in the firm’s New York office, and vice president William Ogborn on its new contract with the government of Ethiopia. They join Ashley Bauman, a former communications director for Tampa Mayor Jane Castor who joined the firm in July. Mercury registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) on behalf of the Ethiopian government as a subcontractor to its London affiliate Mercury International UK earlier this month.

Mercury is also registered to lobby for the American Ethiopia Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC), a US advocacy group that supports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s response to the conflict in Tigray. Also lobbying for Addis Ababa is law firm Holland & Knight, which signed a six-month, 45,000-a-month contract with the Ethiopian Ministry of Peace in March. 

READ MORE:
Ethiopia hires Mercury amid US pressure over Tigray
Ex-members of Congress lobby for new Addis-approved Ethiopian diaspora group

Nigeria: The US lobby shop representing imprisoned Nigerian separatist Nnamdi Kanu on Wednesday filed a petition asking the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate reports of “government atrocities” including “mass arrests, excessive and unlawful force, and torture.” The Washington-based BW Global Group is registered to lobby for Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which advocates for independence for Nigeria’s predominantly Christian southeast. Kanu was reportedly arrested in Kenya in June and renditioned to Nigeria, where he faces terrorism charges. He has yet to appear in court.

“The body of evidence against Nigeria and its systematic and repressive campaign against the IPOB in southern Nigeria has for too long been ignored by the international community,” BW partner Alan White, a former chief investigator for the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone that prosecuted former Liberian President Charles Taylor, said in a press release. “Today, we are petitioning the International Criminal Court to investigate the criminal acts of the Nigerian government – many of which have been well-documented by leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, leading news publications worldwide, and policy groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations.”

READ MORE:
Nigeria separatists hire lobbyist who represented military regime

Americas

Bermuda: Lobbyists for Bermuda are asking Congress to reexamine US support for a minimum global corporate income tax in their $3.5 trillion, 10-year spending plan, arguing that it would hurt the Caribbean country’s significant reinsurance industry and drive up rates for US residents especially in Atlantic coastal states. Last week The Group DC shared with House Ways and Means Committee staffers a letter from Bermuda Premier David Burt to Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.) seeking an exemption for Bermuda re/insurance companies from the proposed increases in the U.S. tax rate.

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Lobbyists with Congressional Black Caucus ties gain clout as Meeks takes over House foreign affairs panel
Barbados asks Rep. Waters for help against ‘damaging’ EU money-laundering listing

Asia

China (Hikvision): BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) has registered account supervisor Jenny Littlefield Eberhardt on its account with the US affiliate of Chinese video surveillance giant Hikvision. 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.

RELATED:
Meet the former US lawmakers lobbying for China, Inc.

Middle East

Qatar: The Embassy of Qatar in Washington has extended its three-year-old contract with communications consultant Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla‘s Lumen8 Advisors. She is paid $1,000 per hour to provide media and communications advice and assistance for the embassy, up to a maximum of $20,000 per month. The newly disclosed contract began March 15 and runs through March 14, 2022.

United Arab Emirates: The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates has renewed its podcast production contract with David Rothkopf‘s TRG Advisory Services for another three years, from September 2021 through September 2024. The rate is $540,000 (including a 10 % discount if the whole year is paid in advance), the same as previously, for a total of $1.62 million. The former editor of Foreign Policy magazine is expected to handle the “production, distribution and promotion of podcasts with a particular focus on programs associated with science, technology, cultural diplomacy, education, tolerance, values, women’s empowerment, and related areas.”

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