Latest filings

Kurdish forces extend lobbying as Syrian opposition descends on Washington; Afghan group lobbies against Taliban recognition; Dutch semiconductor company makes fourth lobbying hire

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

Americas

Bermuda: The Bermuda Tourism Authority has registered CEO Charles Jeffers, Chief Administration Official Tracy Berkeley and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Douglas Trueblood under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Trueblood is based in New York while the other two are in Bermuda.

Colombia: The Fratelli Group has registered account coordinators Makenzie Carlin and Antonio Aguila on its contract with the government of Colombia. The pair joined the firm in June as junior associates and will provide “communications consulting services to promote the importance of Colombia as a strategic partner of the United States” including “media monitoring, strategic counsel, message and materials development, and media and public
outreach support.” Fratelli began representing the Colombian government in 2008 and renewed its contract with Bogota in February for $242,000 through the end of the year.

Venezuela: The Citgo Petroleum Corporation has registered its general manager for corporate communications Kate Robbins under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as the Houston-based refiner battles creditors hung out to dry by President Nicolas Maduro‘s regime. Citgo last month registered as a foreign agent of the ad hoc board of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which is controlled by allies of opposition leader Juan Guaido, as it ramps up efforts to defend its assets. Robbins is expected to “participate in communications with representatives of the US Government and US media to discuss the importance and means of protecting” Citgo’s assets “from claims brought by creditors of the Maduro regime.”

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Asia

Afghanistan: A US-based advocacy group that represents Afghans opposed to Taliban rule has thrown its support behind Republican legislation that would prohibit the Joe Biden administration from recognizing or providing aid or sanctions relief to the militant group. The Afghanistan-U.S. Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council is calling on Congress to pass the Taliban Recognition Prevention Act introduced this month by Reps. John Curtis (R-Utah), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). The council is funded by Afghan businessman Mohammad Gul Raoufi. Three former members of the now-disbanded Afghan parliament sit on its board of advisers.

The council registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in March 2020 and unsuccessfully lobbied against Biden’s troop withdrawal. It has hired two lobbying firms: Wise Capital Strategy, headed by former Republican Capitol Hill aide Matthew Wise, and veteran Republican operative Joe Pounder‘s Bullpen Strategy Group. Wise is being paid $30,000 per month and Bullpen $25,000 per month. Another two firms are registered as subcontractors to Wise: Jake Perry + Partners, headed by a former top adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.); and DunCap Strategies, a Mississippi firm led by the former director of communications of that state’s Republican Party, Jennifer Dunagin.

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Cambodia: Washington strategic communications firm Tricuro has signed on as a public relations consultant to Qorvis Communications on its work for the embassy of Cambodia. The firm will be paid $5,000 per month starting Sept. 1 and $5,000 for each visit to Cambodia for client meetings. Tricuro principal David Sowells, a former president of Bell Pottinger USA, is the only registered foreign agent on the account.

The Embassy of Cambodia in Washington hired Qorvis earlier this month to provide “strategic communications and media relations services in support of increasing public awareness along with travel and tourism for the Kingdom of Cambodia.” The open-ended contract is for $69,300 per month and was effective Sept. 15. Brownstein Hyatt and PacRim Bridges are also registered as foreign agents of the Cambodian government.

Japan: APCO Worldwide has extended its contract to represent the Consulate General of Japan in New York from Sept. 30 until March 31, 2022. The firm signed a six-month, $150,000 contract back in March to provide communications and media relations services in the US. Along with advising and representing the consulate, they will contact media representatives and other organizations.

Singapore: The Fratelli Group has registered account coordinators Makenzie Carlin and Antonio Aguila on its contract with the government of Singapore. The pair joined the firm in June as junior associates and will provide “communications consulting services aimed at raising awareness and deepening understanding of Singapore as a longstanding and strategic partner of the United States” including “media monitoring, strategic counsel, message and
materials development, and media and public outreach support.”

The Embassy of Singapore in Washington recently extended its contract with the Fratelli Group for two years starting Aug. 1 at the previous rate of $18,000 per month, for a total of $432,000, with the option to extend for one year. The contract is for “communications consulting services” including “media monitoring, strategic counsel, message and materials development, and media and public outreach support..” The embassy first hired the Washington communications firm in 2018 to monitor the media and position Singapore as a “longstanding and strategic partner” of the United States with Congress and the executive branch.

South Korea: Former Rep. Robert Livingston (R-La.) and his Livingston Group have ended their representation of a South Korean church blamed for one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country as of Sept. 28. The firm registered last summer as a foreign agent for the San Francisco Zion Church, the US branch of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, to “raise awareness of the misrepresentation and discrimination of the Shincheonji and our privacy concerns as US citizens, and to encourage dialogue on these issues.” The Korean church’s leader, Lee Man-hee, was arrested in August 2020 for allegedly breaking virus control laws but a court found him not guilty of the charge in January.

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Middle East

Syria: The Syrian Kurdish military forces have extended their lobbying contract with Republican political operative James Dornan from Sept. 16 through Nov. 15 for help setting up meetings with members of Congress to thank them for their continued support. The YPG, or People’s Protection Units, hired Dornan and his firm Jim Dornan Strategies for a total of $7,000 back in April, as Foreign Lobby Report first reported at the time. The new contract is for $5,000 per month. Dornan reports to Nowruz Ahmed, the general commander of the Women’s Protection Unit (YPJ) militia, the YPG’s all-female counterpart. Dornan did not respond to a request about the timing of a visit.

The lobbying filing comes as representatives from both the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (the political wing of the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces) and the Turkey-backed Syrian National Coalition are in Washington this week to press Congress and the State Department for continued US support. The SDC, which has carved out a semi-autonomous area in northeastern Syria, wants the US to retain its 900 or so troops to help battle the remnants of the Islamic State and Iranian influence. The Syrian National Coalition for its part is lobbying the Joe Biden administration not to abandon pressure on the Bashar al-Assad regime in hopes of achieving a political settlement to the decade-old civil war, despite growing pressure from Jordan and other US allies in the region to turn the page on the 2011 uprising and normalize relations with Damascus.

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United Arab Emirates: APCO Worldwide has extended its work for the UAE’s climate envoy through Nov. 30 as the Gulf country cozies up to the Joe Biden administration on one of its main priorities. APCO is providing US strategic communications and media relations services for Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber “as it relates to the global climate agenda,” according to a new lobbying filing. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, where Jaber is also Director-General and CEO, hired APCO Worldwide this spring to represent him in his “interactions with the United States as it relates to the global climate agenda.” The initial contract with Dubai-based APCO Worldwide FZ was for $45,000 from April 4 through the end of June. APCO told the US Department of Justice that it “still discussing the other terms of the engagement” extension.

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Business lobbying

France (Arkema): The US affiliate of French specialty chemicals company has hired FTI Government Affairs to lobby on “chemical management and environmental issues.” Mayer Brown and Strategic Marketing Innovations are also registered to lobby for the company but haven’t disclosed any activity since 2019.

Japan (Sanyo): The Sanyo Corporation of America, the US affiliate of Japan’s Sanyo Trading, has hired Washington law firm Butzel Long on lobby on “trade legislation relating to renewing and extending exclusion process under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.” This is the company’s only US lobbying firm.

Netherlands (ASML): The US arm of Dutch semiconductor company ASML continues to expand its Washington lobbying presence, with Alpine Group Partners the fourth firm to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The firm will lobby on the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America (CHIPS) Act, according to a registration that was effective July 1. ASML US registered an in-house lobbying arm in May led by Maryam Cope, a former director of government affairs for the Semiconductor Industry Association, and has since brought on Ogilvy Government Relations and Putala Strategies, the firm led by former Joe Biden Senate Judiciary Committee aide Christopher Putala. Last month, Goldstein Policy Solutions registered as a Putala subcontractor.

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