- Edelman strikes $1.26 million deal to represent Saudi megacity Neom
- Former Appropriations Chairman Frelinghuysen lobbies for Mexico
- Lebanon’s Bahaa Hariri spells out lobbying asks
- Mali lobbying terminated
- Ex-Rep. Garcia drops Qatar
- Saudis hire PR for LEAP2022 technology exhibition
- BCW extends work for Philippines central bank
- Sputnik content producer registers as Russian foreign agent
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
Finsbury Glover Hering (FGH Holdings) announced this week that it is merging with public affairs giant Sard Verbinnen to create a $900 million lobbying and communications firm with 1,000 employees operating from 25 offices around the world. FGH — formerly the Glover Park Group — is registered as a foreign agent for Argentina, Ecuador, the Ivory Coast, Somaliland and the United Arab Emirates as well as a Ukrainian think tank close to President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s political party.
Ethiopia: The government of Ethiopia is ramping up its lobbying against threatened US trade sanctions, with chief trade negotiator Mamo Mihretu taking to the pages of Foreign Policy magazine to make the case that it would hurt women and the poor worst of all. The article was distributed by the Ethiopian embassy’s lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs and comes as pro-Tigrayan advocates are calling for the US to suspend Ethiopia’s eligibility for trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Mali: Hugh Marc Porter of Las Vegas consulting research firm Stratcomms has belatedly filed a lobbying report indicating that he stopped representing the government of Mali at the end of 2019, days after lobbying President Donald Trump in person on Dec. 5. The Malian government hired Stratcomms for 12 months and 708 million CFA Francs ($1.25 million) in January 2019 for lobbying and consulting services to “create interest in educational, social and security, and economic partnerships between the Republic of Mali and the United States.” Porter told the US Department of Justice that the resignation of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga in April 2019 over the Ogossagou massacre of Fulani herders left the contract in limbo and he only received one payment of $514,000 in February 2019. Porter in turn paid CS Strategies $91,000 for consulting services and $15,000 to John Cpin, at the time an associate with the Trump-connected lobbying firm Avenue Strategies.
Mexico: Former House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) has registered as a foreign agent for the government of Mexico. Frelinghuysen, a senior director with Greenberg Traurig, will notably lobby on implementation of the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA). The firm has lobbied for Mexico’s Economy Ministry (Secretaria de Economia) since 2019 and recently extended its contract for $300,000 for the 10 months from March through the end of the year. Frelinghuysen joined Greenberg in February 2020. This is his first registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Former Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.), another senior director at the firm, is also registered as a lobbyist on the account.
Japan: Seattle law firm Foster Garvey has belatedly informed the US Department of Justice that it will continue to represent Japan’s Global Guardian Trust, a Tokyo-based group that purports to promote the sustainable use of marine life, for another year starting April 1 for $54,000. Foster Garvey is providing “legal analysis and monitoring services in connection with US congressional, administrative and judicial action in the area of US fishing law developments that may affect Japanese vessels on high seas or otherwise affect the Japanese fishing industry.” These include fisheries subsidies, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act and legislation to prohibit the sale of shark fins.
Japan: The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) office in New York has registered Director of Public Affairs Kazunari Tsukamoto as a foreign agent.
Kazakhstan: Mercury Public Affairs is distributing a statement of support from Kazakh Ambassador to the US Yerzhan Ashikbayev for legislation seeking permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status for Kazakhstan. Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), the co-chair of the Kazakhstan Caucus, introduced the bill last week.
Philippines: Bangko Sentral ng Philipinas (BSP), the Philippines’ central bank, has extended its PR contract with BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) from Sept. 23 through the end of the year. The firm signed a one-year, $300,000 contract last January to provide “counsel and assistance for the BSP and the government’s economic team in the area of strategic communications to promote BSP’s economic initiative and economic messages internationally.”
Russia: Mindia Gavasheli has registered as a Russian foreign agent for his work as CEO of Ghebi, a US production company that creates radio and online content for the state-run Rossiya Segodnya news agency’s Sputnik multimedia platform. He is now paid $295,000 a year, up from $234,000 in 2020 as editor-in-chief of RIA Global, a previous US production company that terminated its foreign agent registration on behalf of Rossiya Segodnya in August 2020 when it was replaced by Ghebi. Rossiya Segodnya signed a 12-month, $6.7 million production contract with Ghebi in August, up from $5.2 million in August 2020.
Lebanon: Lebanese billionaire Bahaa Hariri has begun spelling out lobbying asks that include more targeted sanctions on allies of Hezbollah, blacklisting corrupt politicians by not engaging with them and denying them visas to the US, legislation that supports assistance for the political reconstruction of Lebanon ahead of elections next spring, and continued US support for the Lebanese Armed Forces. The asks were shared by the Washington office of Australian lobbying firm C|T Group. Hariri, the son of assassinated prime minister Rafik Hariri and brother of former prime minister Saad Hariri, hired in August for $50,000 per month as he eyes a role in the country’s political future. The firm also disclosed an Oct. 11 letter to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland during her trip to the country urging her to rethink US support for Lebanon’s sectarian and corrupt political class.
“While it pains me to write this, I am compelled to let you know what Lebanon does not need: support from the international community that simply backs any government, regardless of who the leaders are or what their past behavior has been,” Hariri wrote to Nuland.
“It is time to funnel support to mobilize the opposition and bring an end to this loop of corruption. Donors know who the corrupt class is, yet they continue to engage and provide them with political cover.”
Qatar: Mercury Public Affairs has terminated the foreign agent registrations of Mercury co-chairman and former Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) and vice president Christopher Murphy on behalf of the embassy of Qatar. The termination comes as the two men registered last week as foreign agents for the government of Ethiopia. Murphy has also dropped his registration on behalf of the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK).
Saudi Arabia: Chicago PR firm Edelman has signed a $1.26 million contract with Saudi megacity developer Neom to provide “strategic counsel and communications support, media relations, stakeholder identification and engagement, content development and media monitoring.” The contract last six months until March 22, 2022. Edelman previously signed a three-month, $75,000-a-month contract with Neom last fall to help spruce up the global image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s $500 billion futuristic megacity project, which has been plagued by investor skepticism and bad press over alleged forced displacements. Registered as foreign agents on the account are Executive Vice President Debora Comenalli Murray, Vice President Jere Sullivan, senior account executive Jack O’Shea and senior account supervisor Tyler Joseph Lehner.
Saudi Arabia: The Saudi affiliate of British business intelligence Informa has hired Hill and Knowlton Strategies for $6,000 to distribute a press release this month to US national and technology trade media announcing the launch of LEAP2022, a technology exhibition held in Riyadh on Feb. 1 – Feb. 3, 2022. Informa is working for the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Hill and Knowlton Strategies Vice President Alfred Black is registered as a foreign agent on the account.