- Ethiopia’s Somali region gets lobbying help
- Kazakhstan taps BGR for 30th anniversary of bilateral relations
- Bahrain renews with BGR for $780,000
- State Department’s Tom Shannon lobbies for Central American conglomerate
- Anti-Taliban group loses Dem lobbyist
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
Arnold & Porter has registered policy adviser Haley Nicholson as a foreign agent on its contracts with the governments of Argentina, Ecuador and Micronesia. Nicholson joined the firm last month. She is a former senior legislative assistant to Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) staffer most recently with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
New York CEO advisory firm Teneo Strategy has registered associate Emily Benson Cummings as a foreign agent on its contract with the UAE’s Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. The foundation recently extended its contracts with Teneo to promote the foundation’s work and the emirates’ 50th anniversary for another three months, for a total of $960,000. Cummings is also registered on the firm’s $150,000-a-month contract with LetterOne, the Luxembourg investment vehicle founded by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman. Fridman is the founder of Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest non-state bank.
Ethiopia: The crowded field of Ethiopian-American lobbying has gotten even more complicated. The Ogaden Community of USA, a Minnesota-based advocacy group that represents the interests of Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region (also known as Ogaden), has hired Washington policy and advocacy consulting firm Von Batten-Montague-York effective today, according to a new lobbying registration obtained by Foreign Lobby Report. The firm will seek US congressional and executive support for: direct humanitarian assistance to the region, an “inclusive Ogaden Region government”; and an investigation into “extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses committed against the Ogaden-Somalis by Ethiopian federal troops.” Firm co-founder Karl Von Batten is registered to lobby on the account along with Mark Walker, a former Republican staff director on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Western Affairs. Von Batten previously lobbied for the Tigray Center for Information and Communication advocacy group in Virginia and registered in July to lobby for the suspension of trade benefits for Ethiopia.
While Ogaden has largely escaped the violence that has engulfed the northern Tigray region and its vicinity, Ethiopia’s second-largest region is beset by drought, flash flooding and locust devastation and is home to two million of the country’s most food-insecure people. Meanwhile Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s campaign to regain control and centralize power in Addis Ababa is fueling ethnic grievances in the Somali region as it has elsewhere. The war, Von Batten said, “has made it worse for everybody.”
Afghanistan: Jake Perry, a former longtime confidante to ex-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has terminated his lobbying for a group of former Afghan lawmakers and business people opposed to Taliban rule as of Sept. 30, according to a new lobbying filing. His firm Jake Perry + Associates was one of four that had been registered to represent the US-based Afghanistan-U.S. Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council, a group funded by Afghan businessman Mohammad Gul Raoufi that has three former members of the now-disbanded Afghan parliament on its board of advisers.
Kazakhstan: The Embassy of Kazakhstan has signed a $60,000 contract with BGR Public Relations to help organize a conference marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of US-Kazakh diplomatic relations. The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence on Dec. 25, 1991, following the break-up of the Soviet Union. The contract runs from mid-October to the end of the year. BGR has been registered as a foreign agent for Kazakhstan since April 2020.
Bahrain: The Embassy of Bahrain has renewed its lobbying contract with BGR for another year, from June 1 through May 31, 2022. The contract is for $65,000 per month ($780,000), the same as before. BGR has represented Manama since 2018.
Central America: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer is lobbying for Grupo Onyx, a Central American conglomerate with real estate and telecommunications operations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Paraguay. Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon is registered on the account along with international policy adviser Adrean Scheid. They are expected to lobby on “innovative policy solutions to the challenges facing the Northern Triangle, including the role of the private sector in supporting initiatives to advance economic inclusion and social development.”
Denmark (Xellia Pharmaceuticals): The US affiliate of Danish specialty drug company Xellia Pharmaceuticals has hired Winning Strategies Washington to lobby on “issues related to manufacture, supply chain, and stockpile of anti-infective active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and finished dosage form (FDF).”
India (Gharda Chemicals): The US affiliate of India’s Gharda Chemicals has hired Invariant to lobby on “crop protection, safety and efficacy of chemicals.”
Vietnam (Vingroup): The US affiliate of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate has hired Boundary Stone Partners effective Aug. 1. The firm will lobby on “electric vehicle consumer tax credits, electric vehicle charging tax credits and incentives, vehicle manufacturing incentives and programs, trade” on behalf of Vingroup.