Latest filings

Two ex-lawmakers join Ethiopia accounts; anti-Turkey coalition unites against F-16 sale; NY’s Karv Communications ends work for MBS’ Saudi investment fund

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 developments

Washington advocacy group In Defense of Christians has terminated its lobbying registration as of Sept. 28 following the departure of its advocacy director Steven Howard last week. IDC Executive Director Rich Ghazal however tells Foreign Lobby Report that the termination was done “in error” and the group will be reinstating its registration as it continues its advocacy under Ghazal’s leadership “until we hire a new lobbyist for the long term.”

IDC’s lobbying arm, In Defense of Christians Advocacy Inc., disclosed spending $10,000 in the third quarter of 2021 — the same as in previous quarters — reaching out to Congress, the State Department, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom on a host of issues including US assistance for Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces, ending the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and supporting Christian Copts in Egypt.

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Africa

The African Development Bank has invited Vice President Kamala Harris to keynote this year’s Africa Investment Forum, which will be held in Abidjan and online from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3. “Your renowned work campaigning for and championing the role of women in driving successful economies will help to energize efforts aimed at facilitating a robust continental post-pandemic recovery,” AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina wrote to Harris on Sept. 23, according to a new lobbying filing. “Your unique perspective on the challenges women face when ascending positions of influence will no doubt resonate with our audience as well as the wider investment community on the continent.”

The invitation was disclosed by Mercury Public Affairs as part of its new lobbying engagement with the bank. The firm is notably assisting the investment forum’s senior director, Chinelo Anohu, who is visiting Washington this week to spur US interest and participation in the event.

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Ethiopia: The government of Ethiopia has landed its first former member of Congress. Ex-Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), a one-term House member who served in 2013-2015 and is now a co-chairman with Mercury Public Affairs, will provide “government relations and media relations consulting and management services” for the embassy. Also joining the Ethiopia account is Christopher Murphy, a vice president in the firm’s Washington office. Both Garcia and Murphy are also registered as foreign agents for the Embassy of Haiti, Libya’s transitional Government of National Unity and Anglo-Russian energy and metals conglomerate EN+ Group.

The registrations come as Mercury disclosed that ex-Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.) had joined its lobbying team for the American-Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC) during the third quarter of 2021, replacing Garcia. The US nonprofit, which supports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s campaign in Tigray, has disclosed spending $100,000 lobbying against sanctions against Addis Ababa since first registering to lobby effective June 1. Ex-Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), a partner with Mercury, has been registered to lobby for the group since the beginning.

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Americas

Canada: Forbes Tate Partners has hired Christopher Brimer, a senior vice president and media director with Canal Partners Media in Marietta, Georgia, to help place television, cable, and satellite ads opposing a November referendum in Maine against a $1 billion power line between Canada and New England. Brimer is expected to be paid around 2 % of a $2.76 million ad buy, or $55,000. Forbes Tate recently extended its contract with the US affiliate of Canadian public utility Hydro-Quebec from August 20 through November for up to $2.38 million.

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Canada: Multinational law firm Dentons has terminated its lobbying registration on behalf of the Canadian American Business Council effective July 30, according to a new lobbying filing. The firm had been registered to lobby for the Washington-based council since 2015 but hadn’t disclosed any activity since the first quarter of 2020. The council still retains the services of the Washington branch of Canadian lobbying firm Crestview Strategy, which is led by council CEO Maryscott Greenwood.

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Venezuela: The new president of the ad hoc board of Venezuela’s national oil company has registered as a foreign agent as Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) looks to protect US assets of from the South American country’s creditors. Horacio Medina is expected to conduct “in-person meetings, calls, and emails with certain U.S. government officials in connection with the interests of PDVSA and the PDVSA Ad Hoc Board.” He participated in a Sept. 29 conference call with Domingo Villaronga, the economic chief of the State Department’s Venezuela Affairs Unit, according to the registration. Venezuela’s opposition-held National Assembly named Medina president of the ad-hoc board of directors for state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, which controls the company’s US assets, back in December 2020.

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Asia

Armenia / Turkey: A coalition of American civil society groups including the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), the Hindu American Foundation, In Defense of Christians, the American Friends of Kurdistan and Daniel PipesMiddle East Forum has launched a campaign to block Turkey’s bid to modernize its fighter jet fleet. Ankara has requested to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made Viper-class F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes worth an estimated $6 billion after getting kicked out of the F-35 production program over its purchase of Russian air-defense systems. The Joe Biden administration encouraged Ankara to request the sale, Middle East Eye reports.

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Europe

Italy: The Italian mission to the United Nations has hired the US subsidiary of London-based global strategic advisory firm Project Associates UK to help promote its activities and priorities. Project Associates USA will be paid $5,000 a month for a “digital campaign promoting Italian activities,” focusing on “international policy, Italian domestic policy, thought leadership in alignment with the evolving political agenda, and publicizing the events of the Italian
Mission and its key employees.” Registered on the account are Project Associates UK CEO and Director Robert Ian Worthington, account director Pietro Vimont and project consultants Hannah Graham-Brown and Matthieu Roubi. The project runs eight months starting Sept. 7.

Ukraine: Alexandra Natalya Chopivsky of Washington terminated her registration as a pro bono foreign agent of former Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development and Trade Ihor Petrashko effective May 18 following his dismissal by parliament, according to a new lobbying filing. The registration was effective April 23. Chopivsky is the founder of the Transnational Education Group, a nonprofit that helps connect Ukrainian students with Washington, and the director of the program on the world economy at the Aspen Institute.

Middle East

Bahrain: APCO Worldwide terminated its foreign agent registration on behalf of the Economic Development Board of the Kingdom of Bahrain effective Sept. 30. APCO had represented the board since 2018, offering “strategic communications and media relations services” in the US “to promote the country as an attractive location for business investment and expansion.” Its latest contract was for around $5,000 per month.

Egypt: APCO Worldwide has extended its representation of the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation for another month through the end of October. Cairo hired APCO in September for $10,000 to promote US media coverage of the inaugural Egypt-International Cooperation Forum held on Sept. 8 and 9 under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the subject of “partnerships to achieve sustainable development.

Qatar: Nelson Mullins is compiling and distributing statements of support by current and former US officials applauding Qatari evacuation efforts in Afghanistan as countries around the world tout their assistance to curry favor with Congress and the Joe Biden administration.

Saudi Arabia: Karv Communications ended its work for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund at the end of June and “does not anticipate future work” for the sovereign wealth fund, according to a new lobbying filing. The New York public relations firm had been working under a $120,000-a-month contract to “enhance the reputation and image” of the PIF and its senior executives since February 2019. The termination comes as the $400 billion sovereign wealth fund signed a pair of contracts worth a combined $2.7 million with New York CEO advisory fund Teneo Strategy in August as it looks to inspire investor confidence amid lingering criticism of the country’s policies. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman chairs the PIF board.

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Syria: Washington advocacy group Americans for a Free Syria spent less than $5,000 lobbying for Congress to reintroduce the Stop the Killing in Syria Act and the No Assistance for Assad Act during the third quarter of 2021. The group is also advocating for “full implementation of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.”

United Arab Emirates: Fleishman-Hillard has terminated Senior Vice President Jessica Dillman‘s registration as a foreign agent for the UAE’s Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future. The St. Louis public relations firm recently signed a three-month, $72,500 contract starting Sept. 1 to provide PR services to “enhance the reputation of the UAE as a location for business and investment.” Fleishman-Hillard previously provided PR services for the UAE’s mission to Mars last year and signed a follow-up deal earlier this year to promote the country’s economic strategy.

United Arab Emirates: The UAE’s Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation has extended its contracts with New York CEO advisory firm Teneo to promote the foundation’s work and the emirates’ 50th anniversary for another three months, for a total of $960,000. The foundation is led by Emirati Princess Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, whose husband Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is widely considered to be the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates.

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Business lobbying

Belgium (Solvay): Washington consultancy Strategic Marketing Innovations has registered to lobby for ​Solvay America, the Houston-based subsidiary of the Belgian industry leader in specialty polymers. The firm is lobbying on “infrastructure funding” and FY23 appropriations for Department of Defense and Department of Energy R&D for advanced materials.

Canada (AddEnergie/Flo Services USA): Holland & Knight is lobbying for “electric vehicle charging grants” on behalf of Flo Services USA, a US affiliate of Canadian electric vehicle charging network operator AddEnergie.

Canada (Canadian National Railway): Norton Rose Fulbright terminated its lobbying registration for the ​Canadian National Railway effective Sept. 30 after merger talks with Kansas City Southern broke down amid regulatory antitrust concerns in the US. KCS terminated its merger agreement with Canadian National last month and entered into a merger agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway instead.

Chile (Antofagasta Minerals): Chilean mining company Antofagasta Minerals has hired the Daschle Group of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) to lobby on “issues related to the development of the Twin Metals Mine in Minnesota.” Antofagasta subsidiary Twin Metals Minnesota is seeking approval to create and operate a copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group mine in northeastern Minnesota but faces environmental opposition. Daschle himself isn’t registered to lobby on the account.

Italy (Fincantieri): Strategic Marketing Innovations has registered to lobby as a subcontractor to the Mabus Group on behalf of the Fincantieri Marine Group, the US subsidiary of Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri. The firm

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